Schenectady County

Suspects in Schenectady murder, rape reject deals

Defendants in two high-profile cases — one murder and one rape — rejected the prospect of plea deals

Defendants in two high-profile cases — one murder and one rape — rejected the prospect of plea deals this morning, sending their cases to trial.

In the murder case, 25-year-old Omari Lee turned down any possibility of a plea deal, his attorney, Mark Sacco, said. That sets the stage for his trial, now scheduled to begin April 21 in Schenectady County Court.

Sacco has said Lee is maintaining his innocence in the April 3, 2007, killing of former Schenectady High School basketball player Xavier McDaniel Jr. Lee contends he wasn’t even in the county at the time of the slaying.

Lee faces a first-degree murder count. McDaniel was shot in broad daylight while sitting in a car outside Jerry Burrell Park.

Prosecutors upgraded the murder charge to first-degree, arguing Lee killed McDaniel after he stole a bag of marijuana from him. The alleged robbery, prosecutors have said, is believed to be secondary to the primary motive for the killing. Authorities believe Lee confronted McDaniel about a perceived slight.

Lee appeared in Schenectady County Court this morning before acting Schenectady County Court Judge Polly Hoye. Appearing before Hoye later was rape defendant David Jones Jr., a 59-year-old ex-convict accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Vale Cemetery over four hours on Aug. 16.

The victim told police she had been walking in the cemetery around 4:30 p.m. that day when a man on a bicycle approached, dragged her into the woods and raped her.

Jones allegedly told the woman to do what he said and she wouldn’t be hurt. The attack ended only after a resident on Maple Avenue heard the commotion and summoned police.

Jones rejected a plea deal this morning that would have gotten him as little as five years in state prison, instead choosing to fight the case at trial. No trial date has been set. He is also represented by Sacco.

Jones has a lengthy criminal record that includes similar allegations. Beacuse of that record, Jones faces as much as life in prison if he is convicted of any felony.

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