Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove announced today that a grand jury has handed up a 17-count indictment in the quadruple murder that rocked Lansingburgh two weeks ago.
24-year-old Justin Mann and 38-year-old James White are now both charged with nine counts of murder in the first degree, four counts of murder in the second degree, one count of robbery in the first degree, one count of burglary in the first degree and two counts of criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree. The indictment alleges the men took an Xbox and a flat screen TV.
The defendants were arraigned Friday afternoon before Judge Debra J. Young at the Rensselaer County Courthouse. Both pleaded not guilty and are being kept in custody.
Abelove told reporters outside the courtroom that Mann and White will in all likelihood be tried together. "The first count of the indictment is under a separate theory of murder in the first degree that has to do with multiple victims being killed during the course of the transaction, and then counts two through nine are separate counts under two different series of murder in the first degree under subdivision seven, which has to do with the deaths being caused in the course of either a robbery or a burglary in the first degree and then there's eight of them since there's four victims apiece."
The bodies of 5-year-old Shanise Myers, 11-year-old Jeremiah Myers, their 36-year-old mother Shanta Myers and her partner, 22-year-old Brandi Mells, were found the day after Christmas in their home at 158 Second Avenue.
Abelove planned to meet with family of the victims. "I know that they are pleased that the grand jury found an indictment and they're happy that the case is moving forward. They're still very much in a grieving phase. I know that there's a memorial service scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at the Troy Middle School. I believe at 1:30. So it's been a very very difficult process for them, while they're still burying their loved ones.”
That public memorial service is at Troy Middle School, where Jeremiah “J.J.” Myers was a student. Troy Mayor Patrick Madden's office confirms he is planning to attend, as is Troy City Councilman Mark McGrath, whose district includes the Lansingburgh address where the killings took place. McGrath says the incident ripped a hole in the community that will take time to heal. "I'm not gonna use the word closure because I can't see that happening for quite awhile. But on the other hand, life does go on for some of these kids, you know the Boys Club is running a basketball tournament, fundraising. We need to get the kids back into the swing, back into the groove of things. People are gonna have to move on but it's not gonna be easy."