Schenectady selected by casino board

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Jury finds Pablo Cruz guilty of hit-and-run murder

UPDATE 6:00 p.m.

Guilty on the most serious of charges.

A jury handed the verdict down Wednesday to Pablo Cruz, the man investigators say struck and killed a bicyclist while drunk and then led police on a wild 20-minute chase with the victims body wedged in the ladder rack.

Cruz was facing 11 counts but the most serious charge was second-degree murder. That is the key count that could put Cruz away for a long time.

Meanwhile, Cruz was acquitted of one count of reckless endangerment. It's a verdict that was unanimous but it's getting split reaction.

It all came to this.

A week of testimony wrapped up in days but the verdict was little comfort to Paul Merges Junior's grieving family.

"Today we'll leave and he'll go back to jail probably for a good portion of the remainder of his life. I, on the other hand, we will go to the cemetery to see my brother," Merges' brother Gene Merges said.

The jury came back into court two times before making their decision. Once for clarification as to what the Cruz was charged with and the other to re-hear key testimony from a top investigator.

After all was said and done the prosecution was pleased.

"The jury spent a lot of time evaluating everything and I think they came to the right decision," prosecuting attorney Mary Tanner-Richter said.

But the defense is not satisfied with the verdict.

Defense Attorney Michael Feit filed a last-minute motion for the jury to reflect on their decision further since they convicted Cruz on every applicable count except for one. That is something Feit says doesn't make sense.

"That application by me, that motion by me, was denied by the judge. So that's an issue that will have to be re-examined at some later point in time. There are other issues; certainly his competency," Feit said.

Cruz's competency is an issue his daughter echoed. WRGB could not show her on camera because she's a minor but she wanted her father's side of the story told.

She said her father was not the same man who raised her after he served time in prison. She also said this fight is not over.

Cruz can appeal this conviction but that cannot happen until after he's sentenced. Sentencing will be September 25th and it could end with Cruz in jail for the rest of his life.

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ALBANY -- A jury has found Pablo Cruz guilty of second degree murder in a hit-and-run crash.

Cruz was also found guilty of second degree vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, and fleeing a police officer.

Police arrested Pablo Cruz, 39, in November 2012. Authorities maintain he ignored an officer who was trying to pull him over, and minutes later, hit a man riding a bicycle and kept driving. All the while, authorities say the man was caught on Cruz's pickup truck. The high-speed chase eventually ended in Rotterdam.

On Monday, Cruz testified in his own defense, claiming he was not driving on the night in question.

 
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