Investigators believe murder of Ray Morgan was premeditated
A former Orleans County resident whom investigators believe planned the murder of Raymond Morgan before beating him to death in his apartment at 111 Liberty St., Batavia, on July 24, was charged in Genesee County Court today with murder in the second degree.
Richard D. Hanes, 36, entered a not guilty plea before a courtroom packed with Morgan's family and friends as well as several police officers and detectives from Batavia PD. He was shackled and dressed in the green jumpsuit of the Department of Corrections and accompanied by a pair of corrections officers.
"Right now we don't have a motive," said Det. Kevin Czora after Hanes was arraigned on the single count of second-degree murder. "All we know is that it was an exceptionally violent attack that happened in an extremely short period of time. I believe it was premeditated from the evidence that we've collected, and what we know, but as of right now we do not have a motive."
Hanes has been in state custody since July 26, two days after the murder, on an alleged parole violation. He is being held at the Attica Correctional Facility.
He was convicted in Orleans County in 2003 of burglary, 3rd, attempted robbery, 2nd, and grand larceny, 4th. His parole on those charges expires Dec. 7.
According to a police spokesman, Hanes was living at 5 Thorpe St., Batavia, a rooming house for clients of GCASA, at the time of the alleged murder.
The evidence against Hanes, according to Czora and District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, is wide-ranging.
"There were witnesses in the area who, when this happened, identified him," Friedman said. "That's how it got started. So we have that. There are various items of physical evidence that were found and connected to him. We've got surveillance video from various locations that follow his path after the crime. There are also various items of scientific evidence."
Hanes is scheduled to remain in state custody until early December. Judge Charles Zambito ordered him held without bail but Fred Rarick, representing Hanes, said he reserved his right to make a bail application at a later date. Hanes will next appear in County Court on Jan. 9 for a hearing on any motions that have been filed.
Though Morgan had his own trouble with the law, he was a 47-year-old Batavia native with a large, tight-knit family locally, including five grandchildren, and a large network of close friends. Victor Thomas said they're all relieved to see the case reach this stage after months of waiting for justice to be served.
"This is the first step," Thomas said. "At least we start to see some justice; at least we got a name; at least we have a charge; at least we've got a prosecutor and somebody who is going to fight for us."
While police identified a suspect early in the investigation and gathered several items of physical evidence, formal charges were delayed until DNA could be analyzed.
Friedman said, because of ethical guidelines, he couldn't discuss that aspect of the case but he said the important factor was just making sure all of the evidence was ready for a successful prosecution.
"I can say that the delay was a matter of completing the investigation," Friedman said. "Fortunately, we had the luxury of time knowing that he was being held on a parole detainer and we knew what our timeline was as far as when we needed to have a grand jury presentation to make sure that we were at this point before he got released by parole."
He said he understood the desire of family and friends to see an arrest made quickly.
"Obviously, I've known all along that there are a lot of people who are very interested in this case, family members, people who are anxious to see something happen and we're maybe at times troubled by the fact that that wasn't happening quicker," Friedman said. "But my position has always been in this case and others is, we're going to do it right rather than doing it quickly. We're not going to jump the gun before we've got everything in order."
Todd Crossett, Batavia PD's assistant chief, said patrol officers and detectives put in more than 800 hours on the case so far (and the investigation isn't done).
"This is a culmination of many hours of work from patrol officers doing an excellent work at the initial crime scene and then going to the detectives," Crossett said. "Anything that came into the department, they were on it. Long, long hours, especially when it initially came in, long hours of chasing everything down. I think because of that hard work in the beginning that's why we ultimately got to where we are."
There has been speculation, Czora acknowledged, that there may have been other people involved in the murder of Morgan. He said every lead along those lines has been pursued and so far there is no evidence of any other people being involved.
The investigation doesn't end with the arraignment today, Czora said.
"There are countless numbers of pieces of evidence that we've obtained and processed and continue to process even still to this day," Czora said. "Our investigation continues even after this arraignment. It's just been an extensive amount of work that needed to be accomplished."
Top photo: Friends and family wearing T-shirts in tribute to Ray Morgan.