Defendants in slaying of four people back to jail

January 04, 2018 06:48 PM

TROY -- James White and Justin Mann returned to Troy City Court for a preliminary hearing. The two men in their jail issue jumpsuits, made their way into the police station. Their attorneys say they were prepared to go forward, but apparently prosecutors weren't.

"They did not care to go forward with a preliminary hearing," said Greg Cholakis, James White's attorney.

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Mann and White are facing a single murder in the first degree charge each and four murder second each. They're accused of killing 36 year-old Shanta Myers, her partner Brandi Mells and her two children Jeremiah and Shanise on December 21st. Their bodies were discovered the day after Christmas in their basement apartment on Second Avenue in Troy.

Mann and White were arraigned on Saturday. By law, anyone charged with a crime is entitled to a preliminary hearing within six days, unless there's an indictment by a grand jury. Otherwise they have to be released from jail. That created some fireworks inside the courtroom.

"What happened as a legal maneuver was the district attorney wasn't prepared to move forward with the hearing," said Joseph Ahearn, Justin Mann's attorney. "The district attorney essentially subverted the purpose of the statute by just filing a new felony complaint. Because they couldn't indict it in time."

A Rensselaer County grand jury did start hearing evidence in the case. But no indictment yet. The hearing turned into an arraignment for White who now faces a new murder charge. As for Mann, he was already being held on parole. That was enough to keep him locked up.

"Prosecutors do want to avoid a preliminary hearing if they can. I understand that. Usually it ends with them being indicted or released," Cholakis said.

District Attorney Joel Abelove had no comment on the matter.


Dan Bazile

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