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Moriches men face murder charges in home invasion death

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Two men from Moriches were arraigned Thursday on murder and assault charges after a grand jury indicted them for a December home invasion robbery that left a man shot to death and his uncle wounded from the gunfire, Suffolk County DA Thomas Spota said Jan. 30.

At separate arraignments, Matthew Rooney and Paul Batterson, both 22, pleaded not guilty Thursday to second-degree murder and first-degree assault charges. They were each ordered remanded to the Suffolk County Jail without bail.

Prosecutors said the two men – armed with a shot gun and their faces covered with masks – stormed into an East Moriches home on Dec. 8 at 3:24 a.m. demanding cash. It is still unclear why the masked gunmen specifically targeted the home where up to seven men – who prosecutors said worked as landscapers – lived.

Authorities have said they believe one of the tenants, 45-year-old Francisco Pirir-Canel, told Batterson he had no money and was going to call the police when the armed thug broke through the front door of the house. That's when, authorities say, Batterson turned his shotgun toward the man and shot him in the face. He died almost instantly, prosecutors said.

The victim's uncle, Cirpriano Pirir-Patzan, who also lived in the home, was shot in the hand while trying to hold the front door closed when the duo broke into the home, prosecutors said.

Homicide detectives later found the murder weapon at Batterson's parents' home in East Moriches while they were executing a search warrant, Spota said. He was arrested after the search earlier this month.

Rooney surrendered himself Thursday to investigators at the Suffolk County Court in Riverhead after being indicted by a grand jury.

Attorneys representing the two men could not be reached late Thursday for comment.

Batterson will be back in court on Feb. 28 and Rooney is due back before a judge on March 6.