A New York woman who'd just seen her 10-year-old daughter raped during a carjacking was stabbed to death during a struggle that allowed the child to escape and get help, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said 29-year-old David Renz was trying to use cable ties to bind the woman to a headrest in her car when she fought back and shouted for the girl, whose hands were tied behind her back, to bolt from the car.
As the child ran off and was rescued by a passing motorist, her mother was strangled and repeatedly stabbed in the head and chest, according to a 37-count indictment that includes a top count of first-degree murder.
"(The mother) died really saving Jane Doe," Fitzpatrick said at a news conference. "There's no question that she attempted to distract Renz so that little Jane could get away."
He said he will seek a sentence of life without parole if Renz is convicted.
Prosecutors said the attack happened two or three weeks after Renz acquired cable ties and an air pistol they said was used to threaten the woman into stopping in a suburban Syracuse mall parking lot as she was leaving a gym class on the evening of March 14.
Authorities said Renz had hours earlier removed and quickly reassembled an electronic bracelet so monitors didn't immediately realize he'd taken it off. He was ordered to wear the device as a condition for being released from jail after his arrest in January on federal child pornography charges.
Fitzpatrick said some child porn Renz possessed included scenes similar to the attack on the mother and child. The Associated Press generally doesn't publish information that could identify potential sex crime victims and isn't naming the slain woman to protect the girl's identity.
After stopping the car, Renz ordered the woman to drive to a remote part of the parking lot where he bound both victims' hands with cable ties and raped the child, Fitzpatrick said.
Renz then drove them a short distance until the car got stuck in a snow bank, prosecutors said. It was there, they said, that he tried to restrain the mother and the child escaped, looking back to see her mother had gotten out of the car and was being chased by Renz.
A passing motorist found the girl and alerted police who caught Renz nearby after a foot chase. Fitzpatrick said Renz had the woman's car keys and blood on his clothes matched that of the child.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Matthew Doran said a knife found on the snow nearby is being tested to determine if it was used to kill the mother. He said the air pistol hasn't been found.
Renz, who lived in Cicero, has pleaded not guilty in both the federal and state cases. On Wednesday, a judge set a June 3 trial date for the federal child porn case.
A federal grand jury indicted him last month on one count of receiving and five counts of possessing child pornography. An FBI investigation led to the charges that he downloaded the pornography featuring young girls over the course of two years and had five DVDs and CDs, according to the indictment.
The state indictment handed up Wednesday includes multiple counts of murder, kidnapping, predatory sexual assault against a child, sexual abuse, menacing, weapon possession, and possessing a sexual performance by a child.