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January 23, 2013

Man accused of robbing restaurant-goer at gunpoint

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

Mell

A suspect was arrested at a party store with a blood-alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit a week after he allegedly robbed a woman at gunpoint outside a restaurant.

According to reports, a woman at Alibi restaurant, 6700 Rochester Road, was placing her carryout order in the trunk of her car just before 3 p.m. Jan. 9 when she heard a vehicle pull up beside her at a high rate of speed. A man wearing a black ski mask got out of the driver’s side of the vehicle and pointed what the woman believed to be a stainless steel handgun at her, saying, “Give me your purse now,” according to reports. 

The woman complied, and the man got back into the vehicle, which the woman described as a black Jeep SUV; he fled the parking lot and drove onto Rochester Road. Troy police Sgt. Andy Breidenich said the woman was able to give police a partial plate number.

Upon investigation, police identified the suspect vehicle as a Dodge Nitro. On Jan. 16, patrol officers spotted the vehicle parked in front of a home in a subdivision near the restaurant where the robbery had occurred. They followed the suspect, James Rutherford Mell, 38, as he drove the vehicle to a local party store.

Police arrested Mell, who at that time was intoxicated with a blood-alcohol level of 0.30 percent, according to reports.

He was arraigned Jan. 18 on an armed robbery charge, which carries a life sentence; six counts of credit card fraud; and drunken driving. Bond for the armed robbery and fraud charges was set at $250,000 cash/surety and at $20,000 for the drunken driving charge.

Mell’s attorney could not be reached for comment before press time.

A preliminary exam on the armed robbery and fraud charges is set for Jan. 23.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.