Police uncover scheme; two suspects appear in court, third arrested in New Haven
Two men were arraigned Friday afternoon in Superior Court in New London in connection with a murder-for-hire plot that New London police uncovered early Thursday.
A third man was arrested Friday in New Haven in connection with the case.
Because the probable cause report was ordered sealed, the details of the scheme or who the intended victim was is unknown.
Elmer Melendez, 28, of 208 Crystal Ave., New London, and Gerardo Carrillo, 26, of Westbrook, were each charged with possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle, criminal attempt to commit murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Melendez was the first to make his brief court appearance. He wore a hospital gown and tube socks without shoes.
Through the assistance of a Spanish-speaking interpreter, the serious nature of the charges was explained to him.
A bail commissioner noted that Melendez was born in Honduras and has been in the United States for only five years. He is not a U.S. citizen.
Melendez has no criminal record. Up until his arrest, he was employed at Leather Man in Essex.
The bail commission recommended a bond of $750,000.
But prosecutor Michael Kennedy asked the court for a $2 million bond, citing the serious nature of the charges and that Melendez had no ties to the area.
Judge Kevin McMahon agreed with the state's recommendation for bond.
"Attempted capital felony, you can't get higher than that," said McMahon. "Both are intimately involved in the plot to kill the intended victim."
Melendez's case was transferred to Part A in New London, where more serious crimes are heard, for Aug. 29.
A third person, Antonio Pena, 35, of 187 Huntington St., Apt. D14, New London, was arrested Friday in New Haven in connection with the case. He was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. He is expected to be arraigned Monday and is being held on a $1 million bond.
Kennedy filed a motion requesting that the police-prepared, probable cause report remain sealed. He said the police investigation is ongoing, and that witnesses and an informant had to be protected.
Public defender Jennifer Nowak thought the report also should be sealed to protect the suspects from potential jailhouse violence.
McMahon agreed and sealed the report.
Carrillo, who wore the same attire as Melendez, also needed the help of a Spanish language interpreter.
The bail commissioner told the court that Carrillo is originally from Mexico and is not a U.S. citizen. He has been in Connecticut for six years and has no criminal record. He, too, works at Leather Man.
McMahon said he could not believe that neither man had no criminal record.
"They jumped to the top," McMahon said noting how serious the charges were.
Carrillo is also being held on a $2 million bond. His case was also transferred to Part A court for Aug. 30.
Melendez's family was present in court. They declined to comment.