PLATTSBURGH — At a preliminary felony hearing appearance in Plattsburgh City Court Wednesday, Judge Timothy Blatchley found enough “reasonable cause” to hold accused murderer Vincent M. Abrams, 44, for further court action.
On June 10, Abrams was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the death of Melissa Myers, 40, at an apartment in the city at 97 Boynton Ave., in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 4.
During the court session Wednesday, Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie, and defense attorney Allan Cruikshank presented their sides to Blatchley, who later ruled in favor of the prosecution.
Wylie called several witnesses to the stand to testify, including Myers’ sister Renee Cator, Myers’ friend Evita Stacey, Plattsburgh City Police detectives, and City Taxi cab drivers.
Cator testified that multiple people, including Stacey and Abrams, visited the apartment to do drugs like heroin, crack and cocaine throughout the day leading up to Myers’ death.
She said Abrams would show up at the apartment “sometimes to hang out, sometimes to do drugs, sometimes to offer a ride.”
Hours before the murder, Cator said herself, Myers and Abrams had gone to the L&M Discount Liquor & Wine store on Margaret Street.
Upon returning back to the apartment, Myers wanted everyone out of her house, and so Cator then got a ride from Stacey and Stacey’s girlfriend to a friend’s house in Beekmantown, and Abrams disappeared, she testified.
Around 1:20 a.m., June 4, a City Taxi dispatcher received a call to 97 Boynton Ave. When the taxi driver, James Loveday, arrived about 15 minutes later, he testified that he honked the horn immediately, where he then saw an “African-American” man leaving while carrying a large item that “stuck out a little bit” from under his arm.
Loveday said the man sprinted down the apartment stairs and ran away on foot toward the lake.
Loveday said he didn’t see the man after that and marked the ride as a “no show.”
Cator, who said she was living at the Boynton Avenue apartment “on and off” with her sister, was the one who called police after finding Myers’ deceased body “drenched in blood.”
Cator said on the stand that she had returned to the apartment early that morning because another person, who was visiting Plattsburgh from downstate, said that he couldn’t reach Myers.
Because of this, Cruikshank argued that that person may have been involved in the murder.
When Cator arrived at the apartment, she said the usual window, as well as the one door entrance that they would leave unlocked — because their house key had gone missing a few days prior — was locked, and she had to climb through another window, where an air conditioning unit was, to get access into the apartment.
That’s when Cator said she saw her sister laying in a puddle of blood on the floor near their bathroom.
On June 7, Abrams was first interviewed by police detectives at the Plattsburgh Police Department.
Plattsburgh City Police Det. Kevin Jessey said on the stand that Abrams told detectives he had come back to Myers’ apartment that night, after she originally told everyone to leave, and upon arriving back at the apartment, he said he found Myers in a large amount of blood and touched her shoulder.
At this point in Jessey’s testimony, Abrams interrupted Jessey to say that he didn’t say that.
After the court was calmed, Jessey continued by saying that Abrams said he then exited the apartment, saw a cab driver and ran.
Based on the testimony, it remains unclear who called for a cab to begin with, but the caller had a male voice.
Before being arrested, Abrams had also shown detectives the cuts on his hands and said they were from working on his girlfriend’s car and from moving a cinder block.
Plattsburgh City Police Det. Nathan Kasprzak said Abrams, during his interview with detectives, also “touched on” taking a piece of a vacuum cleaner from Myers’ apartment.
What led to Abrams’ arrest was the discovery of multiple pieces of evidence near Lucinda Storage on Sailly Avenue on June 9, according to testimony from Det. Ronald Parmeter.
At that location, Myers’ Michael Kors purse — with a cinderblock sitting atop it, the missing vacuum pieces, and two half-buried knives were found by detectives, Parmeter said. This evidence was enough to arrest and charge Abrams.
The multiple pieces of evidence were then sent to the New York State Police lab for DNA and blood analysis.
On Wednesday, the day of the preliminary hearing, some results had been made available, Plattsburgh City Police Det. Charles Wolff said.
PRESENCE OF BLOOD
The purse, two knives — excluding the handles — and vacuum piece were presumptive for the presence of blood, he said.
But, the results didn’t conclude whose blood it was, or whether or not it was even blood from a human, Cruikshank argued.
Because of this, Cruikshank said there wasn’t any evidence tying Abrams to the scene and the prosecution arrested his client “prematurely.”
“There’s no DNA evidence that ties him to the crime except his own admission. He stumbled upon the body, got freaked out and left,” Cruikshank said.
Wylie reminded Cruikshank that the case is barely 10 days old, and they are still awaiting results from the lab on the DNA analysis.
Despite Cruikshank’s arguments, the judge ruled in favor of the prosecution.
With the ruling, Abrams will now remain in county jail, and his next court appearance is yet to be determined.