One of 4 defendants in Scotia arson probe appears in court
SCHENECTADY One of the four young men accused of targeting Scotia homes -- one of them the then-police chief's -- with Molotov cocktails, appeared in court this morning, agreeing to withdraw his application for bail in exchange for crucial delays in the case.
The delays include an agreement from prosecutor John Healy not to seek, for now, an indictment against the top count lodged against him, first-degree arson.
Afterward, Healy said similar agreements have been made with attorneys of the other defendants, keeping all four held without bail.
The agreement not to indict on the top arson count is expected to give all sides more freedom to talk of any possible plea deals, if ones can be reached.
If prosecutors eventually do move to indict on the top first-degree arson counts, new restrictions would apply.
Appearing in Schenectady County Court this morning was defendant Shawn Dedrick, 20, of Scotia. Dedrick appeared with his attorney, Glen Brownell, seeking bail be set in the case.
Healy, though, announced that a Schenectady County grand jury had returned an indictment against Dedrick to one felony count.
But, as part of an agreement with Dedrick to withdraw his bail application, Healy said they would not seek an indictment on the top count, for now, giving time for negotiations.
Afterward, Brownell explained, "That buys a little more time to see where we're going with things."
Dedrick and three others were arrested last week on top counts of first-degree arson and other charges, accused of targeting the homes in Scotia, and the car of another in 2010.
Also charged were Alexander Grandstaff, 21, of Rotterdam Junction; Gregory Mitchell, 21, of Scotia and Joseph Parkhurst, 21, of Schenectady.
Healy later said attorneys for each have come to similar agreements as Dedrick's attorney did, meaning each will remain in jail without bail set for now.
The four were charged last week after a nearly three-year investigation. One of the homes belonged to the then-police chief and was occupied. Another home was also occupied, while a third was vacant. The group is also accused of targeting the car of someone with whom they were feuding.
The home of then-acting Scotia Police Chief Tom Rush was targeted because the group felt they were being harassed by police. The group had been well-known to village police for past disorderly conduct around the village.
That attack sent a bottle through his window, but it didn't ignite. The lit wick fell out before the bottle entered the house. Another attack caused minor damage to another occupied home. The vacant home, which was being renovated, sustained moderate damage.
The nature of the attacks, incendiary devices on occupied homes, elevated the charges against the four to a top-level count of first-degree arson. If convicted, they each face up to 25 years to life in state prison.