The Schenectady man accused of striking and killing a bicyclist while driving drunk and then fleeing police with the man still pinned to his truck was arraigned Thursday morning on a slew of misdemeanor and felony charges, chief among them second-degree murder.
Pablo Cruz, 39, of 1060 Helderberg Ave., pleaded not guilty to a number of charges during his arraignment before Judge Andrew Ceresia in Albany County Court, according to a news release issued by the District Attorney’s Office.
The charges he faces include second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, two counts of driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, first-degree and third-degree unlawfully fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, reckless driving and resisting arrest.
Cruz was indicted last week on the murder charge, which carries a sentence of up to 25 years to life in state prison.
In an indictment, prosecutors allege that on Nov. 24, 2012 at about 12:48 a.m., Cruz drove his 1997 Chevy pickup truck while drunk in the area of Central Avenue in Albany. He was going more than 25 mph above the posted speed limit and ignored a police car that directed him to pull over.
The indictment alleges that three minutes into the pursuit, Cruz acted “with depraved indifference” when he struck Paul J. Merges Jr., a 45-year-old Albany resident, who was on a bicycle at the time in the area of Manning Boulevard.
Cruz then continued to drive — at times in excess of 80 miles per hour, nearly striking marked police cars, and with Merges still pinned to his truck — through Albany, Colonie, Niskayuna, Schenectady and finally Rotterdam, police said.
At 1:12 a.m., his engine blew and his vehicle came to a stop on Curry Road in Rotterdam. The indictment alleges that he failed to comply with officers’ commands to exit the vehicle, and that he fought with numerous officers who attempted to take him into custody.
After pleading not guilty Thursday morning, Cruz was remanded to the Albany County Correctional Facility without bail.