Murder suspects appear in Peru Town Court

FERNANDO ALBA/Staff PhotosThis combination photo shows Craig A. Foster (right) and Nicole M. Cayea being escored into Peru Town Court for a court appearance Tuesday. Each are accused of second-degree murder in connection with Crisie Luebber's death. They are additionally charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, a felony.

PERU — The two people charged with murder in the death of a Lyon Mountain woman appeared in Peru Town Court Tuesday.

Craig A. Foster, 37, of Keeseville and Nicole M. Cayea, 42, of Schuyler Falls were led in at separate times by Clinton County Sheriff's deputies, their hands cuffed and attached to chains around their waists.

Both their attorneys, Allan Cruikshank of Plattsburgh and Peter Dumas of Malone, continued to waive the timeframe for a felony hearing but reserved the right to one in the future.

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie, who will be prosecuting the case, appeared on behalf of the people.

Peru Town Court Justice James Kirby adjourned the case for two weeks to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10.

"Thank you, sir," Cayea said, a slight rasp in her voice.

SECOND-DEGREE MURDER

State Police charged Foster and Cayea with second-degree murder after the body of Crisie L. Luebbers, 46, was found at 98 Blake Road in Peru earlier this month.

Police have said they were called to the home for a disturbance the night of July 5. That night, Cayea and another person called police to report an alleged armed robbery, the details and accuracy of which police could not verify.

According to court documents obtained by the Press-Republican, Foster was found in possession of heroin and crack cocaine during a traffic stop at around 8:15 p.m. June 30, after which he was arraigned on a criminal possession charge and released on his own recognizance.

The documents say Luebbers' death, ruled a homicide, occurred hours later at about 1 a.m. July 1.

Foster and Cayea also face a felony criminal possession of stolen property charge for allegedly stealing a Ford Escape Luebbers had borrowed from an acquaintance. Police recovered the vehicle in Massachusetts July 12, but have not provided further details.

Both remained in jail without bail Tuesday. Neither Cruikshank nor Dumas could offer comment regarding the charges Tuesday.

DISCOVERY

During felony hearings, which sometimes occur after arraignment, the prosecution and defense present their cases to the judge, who then decides whether there is enough evidence to continue the case against a defendant, according to the New York State Unified Court System's website.

Cruikshank told Kirby in court that he had just started to receive discovery, or evidence, from the DA's office on Monday and needed more time to go through it.

"Once I have the opportunity to digest the discovery, I'll meet with Foster and advise the court how we want to proceed."

Wylie acknowledged the large amount of evidence provided, but expressed a desire to keep the case on a tight adjournment schedule of two weeks, which Cruikshank said he did not have a problem with.

After Foster's appearance, Cruikshank told media he would assess whether to move forward with a felony hearing after going through the DA's evidence.

"You wouldn't jump off a cliff until you knew what was at the bottom," he said.

HIGHER COURT

Prior to the hearing, Dumas explained that, if the defense wins a felony hearing, the defendant is released on their own recognizance, but the case is not dismissed and the DA's office is free to indict.

Cayea is being held on bail on some other charges, he continued, so holding off on the felony hearing and remaining in jail for now gives her credit on timed served for those and the murder charge.

Dumas added that, as she is being housed in the jail, he has easy access to meet with her.

He anticipates the case will move up to Clinton County Court. Dumas planned to stop by the DA's office Tuesday to pick up the discovery documents.

"Depending on what we get, that could obviate the need for a trial."

Email Cara Chapman:

cchapman@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @PPR_carachapman

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