Is Miguel Parilla a calculated controller or simply a man who hangs out with drug users and prostitutes?
That’s the debate in Erie County Court, where Parilla is facing several felony charges related to both drugs and human trafficking.
Parilla sat quiet during opening statements Thursday morning before County Court Judge James McLeod.
He’s indicted on 11 counts — eight for drug-related charges and three for sex trafficking.
Pertaining to this case, Parilla was first arrested during a traffic stop in March of last year in Buffalo’s Black Rock neighborhood.
Police said they found drugs in a passenger’s purse; they were later able to link the drugs to 29-year-old Parilla.
Days later he was arrested by Erie County sheriff’s deputies, who linked him to a fatal overdose on Grand Island.
But it was in a house on Hunt Avenue in Black Rock where Assistant District Attorney Meghan Leydecker said “Miguel Parilla sold misery to all the people around him.”
He’s accused of controlling three women by exploiting their heroin addictions.
During a four month period last year, prosecutors Leydecker and Ryan Haggerty said he forced the women to have sex with strangers to avoid painful drug withdrawals.
The defense, led by Mark Sacha, fired back in court.
Heather Anderson, one of Parilla’s attorneys, argued here is “No reliable evidence that Mr. Parilla was trafficking women.”
Instead, they said Parilla is being held responsible for the poor choices of the women, who they claim acted on their own free will.
Anderson argued the DA’s case against Parilla is based largely on his association, not hard evidence.
A verdict in this case is not expected until at least Tuesday.