ALBANY, N.Y. – A jury has found a Schenectady man guilty in the death of a bicyclist during s high speed chase in 2012.
A jury spent Wednesday deliberating the fate of the 40-year-old Pablo Cruz, who was on trial for striking and killing a bicyclist while leading police on a high speed chase in 2012. Cruz was found guilty of second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, endangerment, reckless endangerment, and reckless driving.
Cruz’s daughters were in tears as the verdict was read to the courtroom. He could now be spending life in prison, however, his defense attorney says he still believes there were issues with the trial and doesn’t think his client was competent-saying there will be an appeal.
The jury began deliberations on Tuesday afternoon following closing arguments, and they continued on Wednesday morning.
The jury, made up of seven men and five women, requested a read back of the definitions and elements of two charges Pablo Cruz faces. They heard the definitions of murder in the second degree and reckless endangerment in the first degree.
According to police, at 12:51 a.m. on Nov. 24, 2012, Cruz hit Paul Merges, Jr. with a 1997 Chevrolet pickup truck in the vicinity of Washington Avenue and Manning Boulevard in the City of Albany. He failed to report the accident to authorities, and instead continued to drive in an intoxicated state, with the victim still attached to the truck, through the Town of Colonie and into the County of Schenectady in a reckless manner and at a high rate of speed, driving over the double yellow lines, and at times almost striking marked police units.
By 1:12 a.m. his vehicle stopped in the vicinity of Curry Road in the Town of Rotterdam and failed to comply with police officer’s commands to exit the vehicle. He fought with numerous officers who were attempting to take him into custody.
But the defense argued that Cruz never saw the bicyclist. But prosecutors say the defendant didn’t care about Merges or anyone else on the road that night, saying his actions constitute what they call “a depraved indifference to human life.”
Despite these arguments, Pablo Cruz testified in his own defense on Monday, telling the jury that he never was there or behind the wheel the night of Merges’ death.
Cruz’s attorney, Michael Feit, did not mention his client’s testimony during closing arguments on Monday.
Merges’ brother says that despite a guilty verdict, there are no winners because while Cruz will spend time behind bars, he will have to visit his brother at the grave.
Sentencing is set for September 25. He faces 25 years to life in prison.