A former Albany city employee has been sentenced to 50 years to life for two murders. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas was inside the courtroom this morning.
In December, a jury found 30-year-old Edward Mero guilty of murdering two women, two years apart. The former city of Albany Water Department employee was found guilty in the 2013 death of Megan Cunningham, whose body was found in 2015 near a place where Mero had done city-related work in Coeymans, and the 2014 killing of Shelby Countermine, whom he killed before torching the apartment they shared. Both women were 23 when they died.
Prior to sentencing Tuesday in Albany County Court, Judge Peter Lynch allowed three victim impact statements to be read into the court record.
One statement, read by a representative from the District Attorney's office on behalf of Cunningham’s mother, referenced the last conversation between mother and daughter, characterized as the best last conversation anyone could have with a loved one. Quote: "I told her that I was proud of her. I told her that I loved her.”
Countermine's mother Lori Dean called Mero a "monster" as she shared recollections of her daughter, telling the court, "The pain never leaves me" and mourning the fact that Shelby will never have a wedding day or children. "The last time I saw Shelby was the night before she disappeared. She stopped by to pick up her laundry. I remember watching her leaving through the window. It was snowing."
She bemoaned the fact that while her family suffered, Mero "sat there on administrative leave,” in fact, paid leave from the city Water Department. "As I drove around on Christmas Day hoping to find my daughter, he got to sit down for Christmas dinner with his family."
She said had her daughter's remains cremated so they someday can be buried together.
Shelby’s stepmother also read a statement, which says in part, "He took our last look at her beautiful face. All of life's joys stolen from her and from us. There will never be closure."
Mero has never disclosed q motive for killing either woman. He did take the judge's offer to give his own statement: "I'd like to apologize to the families that lost their daughters... but I didn’t do it.”
Mero was sentenced to 25 to life for each murder as well as 1 to four years for tampering with physical evidence. The charges will run consecutively.
Outside the courtroom, Mero's attorney Cheryl Coleman told reporters: "Today was a day for the judge to sentence based on the verdict, not based on whatever legal issues may have led to that verdict ultimately."
Coleman says the decision will be appealed. “Of course. Legally, we're bound to that. I will not write the appeal. We always think it’s best for someone to look at the case with fresh eyes, see, you know, where the issues are. Certainly provide guidance. But, yeah, we will not do the appeal with this case."
The Albany County DA's office says that because the charges are second-degree murder, there is a possibility Mero could one day be eligible for parole.
- An investigation conducted by the Coeymans Police Department, New York State Police, Albany Police Department, Albany Fire Department, the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, and the Albany County Sheriff’s Department ultimately led to MERO’s arrest, prosecution, and conviction.