The two men accused in the August killing of hair stylist Jacquelyn Porreca both pleaded not guilty to new indictments this morning.
Both Michael Chmielewski, 23, and Sean Moreland, 32, appeared in Albany County Court with their attorneys.
Chmielewski faces a top count of first-degree murder. He is accused of stabbing and killing Porreca, 32, at Recycled Salon Aug. 21 in order to steal between $500 and $800. Police have said he and Moreland worked together to take the money so they could use it to buy heroin.
Both men continue to be held without bail. Their attorneys made no formal bail applications.
Moreland’s attorney, Paul DerOhannesian, declined to comment afterward.
Chmielewski attorney, Gaspar Castillo, noted statements allegedly made by his client will be the subject of pre-trial hearings, as they are in all cases.
“This is a case that has terrible facts and circumstances all around,” Castillo said. “It’s a sad day for everybody. We feel sorry for the family and the young woman that passed away.” Castillo confirmed that Chmielewski’s wife and father were in the courtroom. It was unclear if relatives of Porreca were present.
Castillo noted the seriousness of the charges and said his client has to face them.
“He feels terrible,” Castillo said of his client. “He’s sad. He’s remorseful beyond description.” Asked by a reporter what Chmielewski is remorseful for, Castillo clarified: “Remorseful about the circumstances he finds himself in.”
DerOhannesian filed a motion asking for a gag order in the case. Judge Thomas A. Breslin denied the order, but allowed certain documents, such as the defendants’ alleged statements, if they are filed, to be filed under seal.
The separate court appearances themselves were brief. Both men pleaded not guilty. Breslin asked them if they worked and if they were married or single. Neither worked. Chmiielewski responded he is married; Moreland is not.
Moreland is accused of driving his car, with Chmielewski to the salon. Chmielewski then entered the salon alone, armed with a knife, killed Porreca, took the cash and fled with Moreland.
Police suspect the men ditched the knife in a lake at Washington Park in Albany.
Police have called evidence against the men — including surveillance footage, license plate data, cellphone records and witness interviews — “overwhelming.”
Police have said they do not believe either man knew Porreca personally, but Chmielewski lived near the salon.
Chmielewski faces one count each of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and second-degree burglary.
Moreland faces one count of second-degree murder, first-degree robbery, second-degree burglary and first-degree hindering prosecution.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Chmielewski faces a possible sentence of life without parole. Moreland faces up to 25 years to life, if convicted on his second-degree murder count.
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Categories: News, Schenectady County