Schenectady County

Man indicted in elderly couple assault

The morning of Nov. 8, Juan S. McCray went through his teenage son’s things, finding $150 in cash an

The morning of Nov. 8, Juan S. McCray went through his teenage son’s things, finding $150 in cash and a laptop, then stealing both, prosecutors say.

The theft happened sometime before 7:30 a.m. Fourteen hours later, McCray was at the door of 94-year-old Julius and 83-year-old Elisabeth Gelber, walking in and attacking both before making off with the couple’s laptop, a television, credit cards and a purse.

Elisabeth Gelber has yet to regain consciousness.

Prosecutors now believe the thefts, and the attack on the Gelbers, were part of a larger effort to fuel McCray’s addiction to crack cocaine.

“That’s what we believe,” prosecutor Philip Mueller said Wednesday, “that he was stealing to purchase crack cocaine.”

He added later, “we have certainly seen people, in a craving for crack cocaine, make some of the worst choices and commit some of the worst crimes imaginable.

“It’s a powerful drug.”

McCray, 45, of Michigan Avenue, was indicted Wednesday on a total of 16 counts, including first-degree assault, first-degree burglary and first-degree robbery.

Given past crimes, McCray could get life in prison if convicted on the new charges.

McCray is accused of walking into the couple’s Sunnyside Road home, attacking them and making off with their belongings and their car. Only the car has been found.

Elisabeth Gelber, 83, took the brunt of the attack. She was beaten and tied up, and she suffered a head injury that required emergency surgery.

Her husband, Julius, his mobility hampered by a prior hip injury, was choked but otherwise not injured.

Elisabeth Gelber was knocked unconscious, a condition that has persisted in the more than a month since, family members and authorities have said.

The Gelbers, married in 1946, are parents of nine sons. They’ve lived in the Sunnyside Road home for all but 10 years of their marriage.

Mueller said he informed a representative of the family of Wednesday’s indictment.

McCray is to be arraigned on the new charges Friday. He remains in custody.

Authorities have said McCray targeted the home after he accompanied his wife, a home health aide, on a visit to the Gelbers, a visit the Gelbers complained about.

Mueller said Wednesday he did not know if McCray’s visit was explicitly to case the home.

It was another health aide, coming to work early that evening, that came upon McCray leaving and discovered the couple inside, authorities have said.

McCray faces two counts each of first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery and first-degree assault, three counts of second-degree assault, one count of second-degree robbery and one count of third-degree grand larceny.

McCray also faces two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny and one count each of first-degree reckless endangerment, first-degree unlawful imprisonment and petty larceny.

Each of the assaults relate to Elisabeth Gelber’s injuries; one of the second-degree assault counts refers to her age as an aggravating factor.

The petty larceny charge relates to the the alleged theft from McCray’s son that morning.

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