SLOAN, N.Y. (WIVB) - A violent death went cold until years later when police say they captured the killer. Now the man who was eventually brought to justice is about to go free.
A judge recently ruled Alan Tomaski should be set free, despite being convicted of killing 23-year-old Samuel Ciapa and leaving his body in the Sloan Reservoir in 2002, and despite that he's been in jail for over a year, all because of an oversight by both the prosecution and the defense.
Tomaski's attorney, Andrew LoTempio, is pushing for his client's freedom.
"Well, the papers have all been filed with the Department of Corrections and we're hoping he's out as early as today," LoTempio said.
Tomaski was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 25 years behind bars last March. It was a lesser charge, as requested by prosecutor James Bargnesi of the Erie County District Attorney's Office. But the conviction was just recently overturned because it was outside the statute of limitations.
LoTempio explained, "There was an oversight on our part in not objecting on statute of limitations grounds when the district attorney requested that charge down. And I think it's appropriate to say Mr. Bargnesi made the same mistake. However, the mistake made by the prosecution is a lot more costly."
Last March, after Tomaski was sentenced, Bargnesi was relieved.
"This is what I envisioned for how this case would progress and I'm thrilled it's worked out," he stated.
Now more than a year later, he may be feeling just the opposite as Tomaski sits behind bars, awaiting his soon to come and long-anticipated freedom. The Erie County District Attorney's Office did not return News 4's phone call requesting comment.
News 4 did speak with Tomaski's grandmother, who didn't want to be on camera. She said she's concerned about her grandson's future, wondering if he will be viewed as a killer or be able to get a job. Those are the realities the family will have to face in the coming days.
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