Teens admit to charges in Schenectady fight, stabbings
SCHENECTADY Three teenagers accused of playing different roles in a March 2012 fight that left one man seriously injured each took plea deals Tuesday, with one facing as much as 12 years in prison.
Pleading guilty to the most serious charge was Jonez Merritt, who was 18 at the time of the fight. Merritt pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree assault, admitting to stabbing a man in the torso during the March 14 fight.
The victim, a 22-year-old man, later underwent surgery at Albany Medical Center for a stab wound to his back. Another stabbing victim, a 17-year-old girl, was treated at Ellis Hospital, according to court papers.
Merritt was accused of stabbing them both, but admitted Tuesday to stabbing only the 22-year-old man. Merritt is to get up to 12 years in prison, but potentially as little as five.
The fight took place in the area of Carrie and Lang streets and is believed to have involved upward of 40 people. The fight is believed to have stemmed from an altercation a week earlier, prosecutors have said. Precisely what sparked the overall confrontation was unclear.
Also charged was Christopher Mortimore, then 18, and his brother James, then 16. Christopher Mortimore pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree assault. He had been accused of hitting another participant with a brick and is to receive as much as 3 years in prison.
James Mortimore pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted assault and is expected to receive as much as 1 to 3 years in prison. He was accused of throwing a bottle.
All three are due back for sentencing in March.
Each pleaded guilty as a jury was being seated to try the case. Eight jurors had been picked by the time the guilty pleas came.
All three were free pending trial.
During James Mortimore’s plea, his brother and co-defendant stormed out of the courtroom. There was also shouting in the hallway, and Christopher Mortimore was taken into custody for a brief time. It was unclear if the selected jurors heard the outburst, or if they knew it was one of the defendants. Jurors were not in the courtroom at the time.
Christopher Mortimore was brought back into the courtroom after being checked by paramedics for injuries from a fall. He then apologized to the presiding judge, acting Schenectady County Court Judge Polly Hoye, and entered his plea.
Hoye let him remain free pending his March sentencing, but was clear that any problems would result in his release being revoked.
“Please don’t give me any reason to do that,” Hoye said.
Merritt, due to the length of his sentence, was ordered into custody.