A judge Sunday denied bail for a man charged with fatally stabbing his girlfriend and two of her young children last week at a Staten Island hotel used to house the homeless.
Michael Sykes of Brooklyn pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and attempted murder charges at his arraignment Sunday in Staten Island Criminal Court. He was sent to Rikers Island after an emotional plea by Assistant District Attorney Nina Spadafora before Judge Catherine DiDomenico to keep him behind bars.
Sykes, who is 25, according to a criminal complaint, returns to court Tuesday, when he will be assigned a court-appointed lawyer.
According to police, last Tuesday, Sykes went to the Ramada Inn in the Willowbrook section of Staten Island where the family was living and took a cellphone belonging to Rebecca Cutler, his girlfriend with whom he had a child. He returned the next day, when the family was found by a hotel cleaning woman about 10 a.m., police said.
“He has no regard for the human life of others, even his own child,” said Spadafora, whose voice cracked while recounting the slayings inside the hotel. Sykes fatally stabbed Cutler, 26, her baby daughter Ziana Cutler and Maliyah Sykes, his 4-month-old daughter with Cutler, Spadafora said.
The city medical examiner said all three victims died of stab wounds. Sykes entered his not-guilty pleas Sunday as his mother sat in the courtroom with family members.
“He viciously stabbed Rebecca Cutler 40 times and then his own child multiple times . . . and then little 1-year-old Ziana Cutler, and little Miracle Cutler who remains in critical condition,” Spadafora said. Miracle is 2 years old.
Spadofora said video cameras captured Sykes leaving the family’s hotel room, “discarding his jacket despite the frigid temperatures. In his desperation he discarded evidence. Then for several days he was hiding out.”
After a four-day manhunt, Sykes was arrested Saturday night in Queens. Police have said they believe he may have become angry because Cutler was going to rekindle a relationship with another boyfriend.
Sykes’ arraignment lawyer, Phil O’Hene, requested that police not interview Sykes, who allegedly admitted to police that he committed the stabbings. O’Hene also told the court that Sykes does not have a police record.
In a statement, District Attorney Michael E. McMahon said: “The heinous and violent nature of this tragic crime makes it a top priority for my office. The public should be assured that my staff intends to vigorously prosecute the case.”
After the killings, Mayor Bill de Blasio had city officials remove several dozen homeless families from the Staten Island hotel.