Dismissal sought for Lee man in kidnapping, torture case


PITTSFIELD >> "The charges are false," Emanuel Diaz told police. "I did not set foot outside of my house. I did not kidnap; I did not steal [any] car."

Diaz, 23, of Lee, faces 10 charges, including kidnapping and armed assault, which his attorney, Raymond Jacoub, argues should all be dismissed.

In a 12-page motion filed in Berkshire Superior Court on Wednesday, Jacoub argued there is a lack of evidence to connect his client to the alleged crimes.

Citing a video recording of a police interview in the case, the motion argues that investigators indicated they believed Diaz did not participate in the beatings and did not intend for those things to happen.

"Nowhere was there any evidence that Diaz knew of the assailants' plans," the motion states, "or that he intended for (the alleged victims) to be kidnapped or beaten."

The charges stem from an alleged Jan. 26 kidnapping and torture plot to recover as much as 20 pounds of stolen marijuana.

According to court records in the case, Diaz arranged to purchase a pound of marijuana using co-defendant Jay Strezynski, as a middle man.

Diaz said he did not know from whom Strezynski was getting the marijuana.

The pound of marijuana had been part of a batch weighing between 15-20 pounds that was stolen by one of the alleged victims of the kidnapping and beating.

The drugs were stolen during a complex drop off and retrieval process involving lookouts, multiple phone calls and various locations.

The intended recipients of that marijuana gleaned that the pound Diaz was planning to purchase was from the stolen delivery.

According to the motion, the two alleged victims were reluctant to give information to police at first, but they did so after receiving assurances they would not be prosecuted for stealing or selling the marijuana.

Diaz told police he was confronted by the alleged assailants and threatened at gunpoint to give up Strezynski's name, which he did, under protest, according to the motion.

The night of the assaults and kidnapping, Strezynski also allegedly was threatened by the assailants unless he led them to the men who were selling the marijuana.

Co-defendants in the case, Dashaan Golden and Curtis Segura went along to the phony buy in order to ensure no harm would come to Strezynski, part of the motion reads.

According to witness statements and cellphone records, Diaz never left the apartment and did not accompany the men to the section of Lee where the ambush and kidnapping allegedly took place.

Police were apparently confident Diaz did not accompany the group to the meet, but wanted him to explain why he was reluctant to provide more information.

"I want to live," he told them. "I don't want to get head-tapped. I don't want no bullet in my head."

The victims allegedly were attacked in Lee and a firearm was discharged during a struggle — though no one was hit. One victim was grabbed and driven to Pittsfield, where he was beaten with guns and a bat until he revealed where the stolen marijuana was.

Jacoub argued if prosecutors wish to pursue charges against Diaz under a theory of joint venture and aiding and abetting, there is insufficient evidence to do so.

He said even if the state could argue that Diaz was somehow involved in the commission of the crimes by leading the alleged assailants to Strezynski, there is no evidence that he intended for the alleged victims to be kidnapped and beaten or evidence the assailants announced their plan to him ahead of time.

Jacoub argued the evidence shows Diaz was not at the site of the ambush and was not in Pittsfield where the alleged beating and torture took place.

He said it is "legally impossible," for Diaz to have possessed a firearm that was used miles away from where he was at the time.

Jacoub said Strezynski's statement to police that Diaz apologized to him for getting him involved is indicative of his being an unwilling participant.

For now, Diaz faces two counts each of armed assault with intent to rob, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery and one count each of kidnapping, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, intimidation of a witness and conspiracy to violate drug laws.

Five other people face similar charges in connection with the crime, none of whom appear to be accused of having a direct hand in the alleged beating and torture.

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.


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