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Accused murder accomplice acquitted on all charges

Accused murder accomplice acquitted on all charges

Jury still deliberating against co-defendant
Accused murder accomplice acquitted on all charges
Tyshawn Plowden and his attorney Cheryl Coleman react to a complete acquittal Wednesday, March 29, 2017.
Photographer: Steven Cook

SCHENECTADY — A Schenectady County jury on Wednesday acquitted an accused murder accomplice on all charges after a day of deliberations.

The jury found Tyshawn Plowden not guilty on all counts related to the May 6 killing of Taquan Foreman inside 410 Paige St.

The jury is continuing to deliberate against co-defendant and accused shooter Arsheen Montgomery. The jury will resume those deliberations Friday.

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Arsheen Montgomery and his attorney Mark Juda watch. The jury is continuing to deliberate in his case. (Steven Cook)

Plowden stood with his attorney, Cheryl Coleman, as the jury foreman read the verdict. He immediately bowed his head and lifted his hand to his face as the not-guilty verdicts were read. He then hugged Coleman.

Afterward, Coleman praised the verdict. She had criticized the prosecution's case as lacking evidence, other than an an alleged co-conspirator whose credibility she questioned.

"No one should get convicted on evidence like this," Coleman said, "and Montgomery shouldn't get convicted on evidence like this, either."

Prosecutors alleged Plowden, 28, Montgomery, 23, and a third man, 19-year-old Jahsiah Tucker, all of Schenectady, plotted to rob Foreman of drugs and money, but their plot went awry, and Montgomery shot and killed Foreman.

Of the three attackers, though, only Tucker went in without a mask. He set up a drug deal in order to set up the robbery, prosecutors said. After he was inside the apartment, two men came in wearing masks.

Prosecutors cut a deal with Tucker in which he pleaded guilty to a related crime and could receive as little as two years in jail. Tucker, in return, testified against Plowden and Montgomery, identifying them as the masked men.

Prosecutor Peter Willis cited testimony and evidence that he said either placed the two defendants in the area or in communication with Tucker before and after the killing.

Defense attorneys argued there was nothing other than Tucker's word to place either defendant in the apartment with Foreman during the robbery. Coleman argued Tucker sold his testimony for a lenient sentence. An associate of Foreman's testified that he recognized Plowden's voice, but only after first denying it on the stand.

Plowden's family members, including his father, Shawn Blake, attended much of the trial and were present for the verdict.

"We knew he was innocent," Blake said outside the courtroom. "We just put all the faith in the Lord and the truth was revealed."

The verdict means Plowden is no longer being held in the murder case. However, Coleman and jail officials said he has unrelated court issues elsewhere to address before he can be released. He remained in custody Wednesday evening.

When Plowden does get out, Blake said he will focus on his own 3-month-old son. Plowden has been in custody since his May arrest.

He faced 25 years to life in prison, had he been convicted.

Montgomery continues to face a first-degree murder charge and up to life in prison if he is convicted. He is represented by attorney Mark Juda.

Wednesday's acquittal on all charges in the murder case is the first such result in Schenectady County Court since 2006, and only the second since Robert Carney took over as Schenectady County District Attorney in 1990.

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