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Suspect pleads guilty, ending trial

Suspect pleads guilty, ending trial

The home invasion and attempted murder trial of Charles E. Little III ended Friday when he pleaded g

The home invasion and attempted murder trial of Charles E. Little III ended Friday when he pleaded guilty to two felony burglary charges, prosecutors said. He faces 16 years in prison when sentenced in Schenectady County Court.

Little pleaded to first-degree and second-degree burglary in full satisfaction of a 27-count indictment on the third day of his jury trial.

The indictment charged him with attempted murder in connection with the firing of a gun at residents of 421 Division St. during an attempt to rob the home’s occupants. During the Jan. 19, 2007, incident Little’s partner, Aaron Peavy, was shot dead by Ralph Schulenberg Jr., a resident of the home.

Little, 20, of Troy, took the plea deal after acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino dismissed the jury Friday afternoon because of inclement weather, said Chief Assistant District Attorney Philip Mueller.

“There had been discussions [Thursday] about it. It wasn’t sudden,” Mueller said.

“The bottom line was the overwhelming evidence against him.”

He said Julie Brauth and Nat Schulenberg, who were in the house at the time and testified Wednesday and Thursday, “were very strong, very convincing witnesses.”

Little held Brauth, Schulenberg and a third person at gunpoint inside the Division Street home while Peavy searched for drugs.

“Little was a full partner in this scheme. He was the leader of the two who went in and carried out the attempted robbery and burglary,” Mueller said.

During the incident, Schulenberg Jr. and Ralph Schulenberg Sr. surprised the two men and a gun battle erupted. Mueller said Schulenberg Jr. fired a vintage, bolt-action rifle at the two men, striking Peavy in the chest and killing him. A rifle bullet also hit Little in the left hand, severing his thumb and index finger. Little fled the house and was later arrested in Troy.

Mueller said Peavy or Little fired first at Schulenberg Jr. with a small-caliber handgun, getting off two rounds. The bullets did not hit anyone. He said Schulenberg Jr. fired at least five rounds, hitting both intruders. Other rounds passed through the front door, almost striking a person standing on the porch and another hitting a car in the street.

Schulenberg Jr. was not charged in the incident, Mueller said, as he fired in self defense. Police also never charged anyone in the Division Street house with drug involvement.

Mueller said a third person in the incident, Thomas L. Brennan, 20, of 34 Glenwood St., Albany, could face up to 16 years in prison.

Brennan “was the wheel guy who orchestrated the armed robbery and drove them there and knew there was a large quantity of marijuana in the house,” Mueller said.

He struck a plea deal with prosecutors to testify against Little but later reneged, Mueller said. The deal offered him two to four years in prison.

“We will seek the maximum sentence against Brennan,” Mueller said.

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