MOREAU — A man who pleaded guilty earlier this month to raping a woman last year is now accused of conspiring to kill a witness connected with the case in an apparent plot to free himself, Saratoga County sheriff's officials said Wednesday.
Kyle Shultz, 19, who remains in the Saratoga County Jail, faces a second-degree conspiracy count.
Though he had already pleaded guilty in the rape case, investigators determined he hoped the death of a witness would weaken the case and that he'd be allowed to take back his plea and either be freed or get a better deal.
Defendants are only allowed to take back pleas under specific circumstances, generally related to how the plea was offered, not the status of witnesses.
"Trust me, I'm not going to say it makes sense, but this is the idea," said Saratoga County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Brown on Wednesday.
Shultz was initially arrested in May, along with another man, Dylan E. Kelly, 21. Both were accused of raping a woman in Moreau and then robbing her.
Investigators said the men encountered a 41-year-old Queensbury woman while walking in the area of Ferry Boulevard early on May 16. After socializing briefly with the woman, Shultz and Kelly allegedly raped her before stealing her credit cards and driver’s license, deputies said.
Officials caught word of the alleged murder plot after Shultz's March 2 guilty plea in the rape case and after a jail assault. He pleaded guilty to both crimes and was expected to receive a total sentence of 16 years in state prison. The case against Kelly, who is not suspected in the murder conspiracy plot, is pending with trial scheduled for next month.
Shultz, who has been in custody since his arrest on the rape charge, is formally accused of plotting the murder, along with two other individuals, though no further arrests were expected, according to authorities.
The alleged plot could affect Shultz's plea deal, just not in the way Shultz had hoped. His guilty plea will stand, but defendants are told to remain arrest-free pending sentencing.
The new arrest, especially on an accusation related to the underlying case, allows prosecutors to ask a judge to set aside the plea agreement. If the judge agrees, Shultz would face up to the maximum sentences for charges to which he admitted. In his case, that is 32 years -- on top of the potential maximum consecutive term of 25 years he faces if convicted of the conspiracy plot.
The investigation began with a tip. Brown would not detail the plot or methods used but noted that inmates can only communicate in certain ways, including monitored phone calls.