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The Buffalo News

July 13, 2000

Author: MATT GRYTA, News Staff Reporter []

A Kenmore man admitted in court today that he was trying to hurt the Rev. Arthur J. Mattulke when he attacked and stabbed the priest with several religious articles earlier this year in St. Margaret’s Catholic Church.

Frank Ciamarra pleaded guilty before Erie County Judge Michael L. D’Amico to a violent-felony charge of attempted third-degree assault for the Feb. 14 attack in the Hertel Avenue church.

Ciamarra, 27, whose lawyers dropped a possible insanity-related defense in the case and accepted a prosecution plea deal, told the judge he is undergoing psychological and substance abuse counseling and taking medication for bipolar disorder.

He also told the judge that at the time of the attack, he was being treated by a physician for depression and anxiety but admitted, without going into detail, that he intended to hurt the young priest during the 6:30 a.m. attack.

Prosecutors Michael J. McHale and Frank A. Sedita III told the judge that both Mattulke, 30, and Bishop Henry J. Mansell, leader of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese, have found the plea and the dismissal of attempted murder and other assault and weapons charges acceptable.

McHale and Sedita also told the judge that Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark approved the plea in the interest of justice because Ciamarra has “no significant criminal history”.

The prosecutors and Barry Covert, Ciamarra’s chief attorney, all told the judge that a forensic mental examination ordered on Ciamarra in February by Buffalo City Judge Patrick M. Carney proved that even though Ciamarra is mentally ill, he is mentally fit to stand trial.

The judge told Ciamarra he will sentence him to 31/2 years in prison, the minimum sentence for such a violent-felony charge, mainly because it was deemed “acceptable to the victim and the church.”

D’Amico allowed Ciamarra to remain free pending his Sept. 29 sentencing on the $350,000 in property bail his family posted for him in March.

Mattulke, who was ordained in 1997 and named parochial vicar at St. Margaret’s in July 1998, was attacked by Ciamarra with an aspergillum — a small perforated rod used to sprinkle holy water — and a metal cross as Ciamarra screamed about killing him.

Buffalo Police Officers Obed Casillas and Anthony Figueroa rushed to the church after a frantic 911 call was made and arrested Ciamarra near the rectory.

The attorneys told D’Amico that Mattulke was hospitalized overnight and needed nine stitches to cover a stab wound and his wrist was broken. He has returned to his duties.

Record Number:  0007130163