Fugitive Who Fled During Trial Deliberations and Sentenced in Absentia Captured and Returned to Court

Thursday, June 16, 2016


Fugitive Who Fled During Trial Deliberations and Sentenced in Absentia
Captured and Returned to Court

Defendant Remanded to Serve 40 Year Sentence Imposed Last Month
For Shooting Five Members of One Family

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 25-year-old Bushwick man who was sentenced in absentia to 40 years in prison last month was captured yesterday afternoon and brought before the court where he was remanded to begin serving his sentence.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant brazenly shot and injured five members of the same family in broad daylight. Like a coward, he fled when it became clear that the evidence against him was overwhelming. He will now serve the 40 year sentence he so justly deserves.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Curtis Peterson, 25, of Bushwick, Brooklyn. He was sentenced in absentia to 40 years in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Michael Gary on May 23, 2016. The defendant was convicted on April 6, 2016 of three counts of first-degree assault, one count of first-degree attempted assault, one count of second-degree assault, one count of first-degree reckless endangerment, one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and one count of first-degree harassment last month following a jury trial. The defendant, who was free on $100,000 bail, absconded following summations.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on July 20, 2013, at approximately 2 p.m., the defendant, who was with a group of young men, approached the victims, who were on Menahan Street. He opened fire, striking Ronaldo Pizarro, 45, in the stomach, striking Pizarro’s wife Melody Amill, 37, in the knee, and striking his son, Ronaldo Jr., 22, in the leg. Pizarro’s aunt, Wanda Espinoza, 45, was hit in the stomach and another relative, Manuel Rivera, 62, was hit in the ankle.

Furthermore, according to trial testimony, Peterson had an ongoing dispute with Pizarro’s 18-year-old daughter whom he harassed on July 18, 2013, by showing up at her job in a McDonald’s and throwing a milkshake at her. Pizarro’s daughter, at the behest of her parents, reported the harassment to the police, according to testimony, leading Peterson to seek retaliation by confronting and shooting at her family members.

Finally, according to trial testimony, a 9mm Taurus semiautomatic handgun was found at the scene and the defendant’s DNA was present on the firearm. The defendant fled to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he was arrested several days later.

Following summations the defendant stopped showing up for court and fled the jurisdiction. Detectives from the New York City Police Department’s 83rd Precinct Detective Squad and the Warrants Squad apprehended the defendant yesterday afternoon after receiving credible information that he was staying in an apartment located at 731 Lexington Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

When the detectives arrived at the location the defendant fled, climbing out of a rear first-floor window and into a backyard and then jumping two fences. He was found hiding beneath a fire escape in a neighboring backyard. He was then taken into custody by members of the NYPD Warrants Squad.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Chief of the District Attorney’s Grey Zone Trial Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Ross Yaggy, also of the Grey Zone.