TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The fate of a Schenectady man accused in a quadruple homicide lies in the hands of the jury. The jury began deliberating around 11:40 a.m. Tuesday.
They have a lot to think about after days of testimony and closing arguments on Monday. Defendant James White, who represented himself, claimed that it was a former friend and co-defendant who killed the victims: 5-year-old Shanise Myers, her brother 11-year-old Jeremiah, their mother Shanta Myers, and her partner Brandi Mells.
“I assure you, I had no knowledge of what was going to happen that night,” White told the jury. He claims he never entered the family’s Lansingburgh apartment on the night of the December 2017 killings. Insisting that he stood outside in a basement stairway for nearly two hours.
White pointed to evidence of security video, which captured Jeremiah coming home after basketball practice. White claims he and Jeremiah chatted briefly outside, yet he says he never intervened or prevented the child from entering the home where he would ultimately be killed.
Justin Mann, who accepted 25 to life in exchange for his testimony, told jurors that he and White were both inside the apartment, planning to steal a TV and an Xbox controller. Mann claims White threatened him with a knife and directed him to tie up the four victims while White stabbed them to death.
White repeatedly tried to discredit Mann. “I submit to you that Justin Mann is willing to do and say anything to not only save himself but to ensure that I get convicted with him,” he said.
As for the prosecution, Rensselaer County Assistant District Attorney Matthew Hauf asked the jury how one person alone could tie up all four victims with strips of bed sheets and attack them. “It’s simply not feasible that one person did it themselves,” he said. “It isn’t logical.”
The prosecution also refuted White’s reasoning about why his DNA, along with that of two of the victims, was found on a pair of black gloves in his possession when he was arrested. Hauf showed cellphone video taken by White and CDTA bus footage of the men traveling home from Troy, claiming they are the same black gloves.
White told jurors he and Mann were swapping gloves the night of the killings.
“It’s a ruse. It’s a sham,” Hauf told the jurors.
Those jurors have requested to rehear the definition of the murder charges as well as the 911 call from the landlord who discovered the victims’ bodies.