Schenectady County

Suspect turns down plea deal in Niskayuna rape case

The man accused of raping a jogger in Niskayuna rejected a plea deal Thursday that would have given

The man accused of raping a jogger in Niskayuna rejected a plea deal Thursday that would have given him 18 years in state prison.

Also Thursday, the statement suspect Abel Melendez allegedly gave to police was read in court. In it, Melendez admitted he had sex with the woman, whom he said he just met and did not know, but said it was consensual.

Melendez, 22, appeared Thursday before judicial hearing officer Michael C. Eidens for a hearing on the admissibility of his alleged statement to police.

Before the hearing, Melendez, through his attorney Mark Juda, formally rejected the plea offer.

The plea would have encompassed both the rape case and unrelated burglary and attempted burglary counts.

Eidens checked with Melendez that he was rejecting the plea. Melendez confirmed that was what he wanted to do.

Melendez, of Dean Street, was indicted in May on one count of first-degree rape, a high-level felony that carries up to 25 years in state prison upon conviction. He was also indicted on burglary and attempted burglary counts, accused of breaking into a shed and trying to break into a woman’s apartment in Schenectady, authorities have said.

In the rape case, Melendez is accused of pulling the woman off Balltown Road just south of Nott Street as she walked around 2:30 a.m. Oct. 16, 2010.

The victim told police her attacker was riding a bicycle and that he spoke with her for a few minutes. He then got off the bicycle, grabbed her and pushed her between two buildings, assaulted her and took her cellphone. She walked to her home and called police from there.

It was the woman’s cellphone that ultimately helped lead police to Melendez, prosecutors have said.

Melendez was arrested in April.

In his alleged statement to police:

Melendez said he was riding his bike on Union Street, near the McDonalds, when he turned onto Dean Street and encountered the jogger, Niskayuna Police Detective Alan Bell testified.

Melendez rode his bike alongside her for several blocks, even pointing out his house on Dean Street. The walk was partially caught on surveillance camera from a school.

When they got to Balltown Road, they had consensual sex, Melendez said, though he appeared to also be admitting there was some force involved.

Melendez also admitted to then taking the woman’s cellphone and making a call on it later. When he realized police were looking for the phone, he said, he then threw it in the pond at Vale Cemetery.

The hearing on Melendez’ statements is to continue Nov. 7.

The case is being prosecuted by Christina Tremante-Pelham. Melendez remains in custody, held without bail.

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