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What you need to know for 01/21/2018

Indictments handed up in Troy quadruple murder case

Indictments handed up in Troy quadruple murder case

Charges claim murders were committed during burglary
Indictments handed up in Troy quadruple murder case
Troy Police officers escort murder suspects James W. White, left, and Justin Mann, center, from court, Dec. 30, 2017.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

TROY — Two Schenectady men who killed a Troy family of four last month made off with a video game system and a television after the slayings, according to an indictment handed up Friday.

James White, 38, and Justin Mann, 24, were formally indicted Friday on multiple counts of first- and second-degree murder.

If convicted on those counts, they face up to life in prison.

The indictment also includes a burglary allegation against both men and new charges of first-degree robbery and misdemeanor possession of stolen property.

The stolen property counts accuse the men of taking an XBox game system and a flat screen television from the 158 Second Ave. apartment where the victims were found slain -- five days after the murders, according to police.

Neither Mann nor White were present in court when Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove handed up the indictments to Judge Debra Young. 

The court, however, arraigned both men in person shortly afterward. Their attorneys entered pleas of not guilty for the men, and the judge ordered them held.

Afterward, Abelove would not say how the identified stolen items played into any motive in the case.

Abelove said he had yet to speak with the victims' families.

"They're still in very much a grieving phase," Abelove said. (A memorial service for the family is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Troy Middle School.) "It's been a very, very difficult process for them while they're still burying their loved ones."

White and Mann were arrested Dec. 29 on charges that accuse them of murdering Shanta Myers, 36; her children Jeremiah and Shanise, 5; and Myers' partner, Brandi Mells, 22, on Dec. 21 inside the family's 158 Second Ave. apartment. 

The family's bodies were discovered by a property manager on Dec. 26.

Friday's indictments came after White's defense attorney, Greg Cholakis, made a bid Friday morning to have his client released in response to a legal maneuver by a prosecutor on Thursday.

Cholakis originally argued in City Court that the filing of a new murder charge against White was done for the sole purpose of keeping him in custody, in violation of court rules. He argued that, because prosecutors didn't hold a hearing or produce an indictment, White should have been released.

Rensselaer County Court Judge Debra Young heard Cholakis' appeal Friday but rejected the arguments and ordered White to remain in custody.

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