Schenectady County

Convicted Schenectady rapist may accept plea deal

The man convicted earlier this month of raping a woman he found walking down Balltown Road may take

The man convicted earlier this month of raping a woman he found walking down Balltown Road may take a plea deal, after all.

Prosecutor Christina Tremante-Pelham made the unusual offer in court Wednesday morning, one that would include both the rape case and unrelated burglary charges against defendant Abel Melendez.

Melendez faces up to 25 years in state prison for his first-degree rape conviction at his May sentencing. A Schenectady County jury found him guilty in the October 2010 attack.

But Melendez, 23, also faces trial 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.

If convicted in those cases, Melendez could face additional prison time, served consecutively.

The new plea offer would wrap up all the cases with a total sentence of 22 years. The advantage to the prosecution is that it would not have to go through another felony trial and would not have to defend the rape conviction against an appeal, as a waiver of his right to appeal would be part of a guilty plea.

Melendez, through his attorney Mark Juda, asked for and received time to consider the offer, wanting to speak to his father.

The offer is four years longer than one extended to Melendez in October, before his trial. Melendez then turned down 18 years in state prison in return for a guilty plea in each of the cases.

No new date was set to respond to the new plea offer. Presiding over the case is acting Schenectady County Court Judge Felix Catena.

The jury in the rape case deliberated about four hours before reaching its verdict. Melendez, who lived on Dean Street in Schenectady, is set for sentencing May 2, and he is set for trial in the burglary cases as early as next month.

Melendez was charged in February 2011 with an attempted burglary in Schenectady, prosecutors have said. In that case, he allegedly tried to break into a woman’s Central State Street neighborhood apartment Oct. 28.

The resident awoke in the middle of the night to noises outside the apartment. The intruder, however, left without making contact with the resident.

Fingerprints left on an opened window led to Melendez, prosecutors have said.

In the other pending case, Melendez was charged with third-degree burglary, accused of breaking into the JC Little League building on Michigan Avenue on Aug. 4, 2010, prosecutors have said. He is accused of prying open shutters on the building and going through items inside. It was unclear if anything was taken.

In that case, fingerprints also led police to Melendez, officials said. Police dusted the shutters for prints and matched them to prints on file.

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