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Judge sends quadruple murder case against Schenectady men to hearings

Judge sends quadruple murder case against Schenectady men to hearings

Ruling rejects defense motion to dismiss charges
Judge sends quadruple murder case against Schenectady men to hearings
James W. White and Justin Mann are led from Troy City Court, Dec. 30, 2017.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

TROY — The quadruple murder case against two Schenectady men accused of killing a Troy family in December is on course for hearings and trial.

The judge in the case on Friday denied defense motions to dismiss the indictments against James White and Justin Mann, but granted requests for multiple pre-trial hearings regarding alleged statements and police search warrants.

No dates for the hearings or potential trial were set.

Rensselaer County Court Judge Debra Young issued her ruling Friday in response to standard defense pre-trial motions.

The judge denied another hearing that would have explored allegations of deliberate or reckless misstatements made by police related to video recorded from a neighboring property.

White, 38, and Mann, 24, both of Schenectady, were indicted in January on first-degree murder and other charges for allegedly killing the family of four on Dec. 21 inside their 158 Second Ave. apartment. Their deaths weren't discovered until Dec. 26.

Police arrested Mann and White on Dec. 29 in Schenectady and charged them with the murders of Shanta Myers, 36; her children Jeremiah and Shanise, 5; and Myers' partner, Brandi Mells, 22.

Mann and White, both ex-convicts, allegedly killed the four during a robbery, making off with an XBox game system and a flat-screen television. They both face up to life without parole if convicted of the first-degree murder counts.

An important pre-trial hearing is expected to relate to Mann's alleged statements to police after his arrest.

Young sealed the statement ahead of any hearing on the issue at the request of Mann's defense attorney Joseph Ahearn. Ahearn argues Mann invoked his right to remain silent a total of 23 times, the first time two minutes after police began their questioning.

Though the specifics of what Mann allegedly told investigators are sealed, prosecutors argue that should it be allowed, saying that it incriminates White. Young allowed the hearing on Mann's statement. 

Young's ruling also dealt with an apparent recording of Mann after officers placed them in a holding cell next to each other. Exactly what was allegedly said is not included in the ruling, but the judge found it too early to consider the issue.

The search warrant hearing is expected to include defense contentions that errors in applications for three search warrants make those warrants invalid, and then make anything found as a result of those searches inadmissible in court.

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