By Dave Andrusko
After blowing kisses through the window of the police car to the family of his alleged victims on Wednesday, on Thursday Gabriel Vega pleaded not guilty to seven charges surrounding the fire that claimed the life of Vanessa Milligan and her unborn baby. Milligan, 19, was nine months pregnant.
The judge at the Rensselaer County Court [New York] listed the charges.
*Murder in both the first and second-degree
*Burglary in both the first and second-degree
*Arson in both the second and third-degree
*Abortion in the first-degree
The family burst into tears as the judge read the charges against Vega.
Last April Milligan and her unborn daughter, Alina, were found dead after a fire spread to two buildings on 5th Avenue in Lansingburgh. At the time officials told the media they believed the fire was set to cover up the killing.
The Times-Union reported that a sealed indictment was handed up last week by a Rensselaer County grand jury. Vega, 18, was arrested Wednesday by Troy police and U.S. Marshals.
At a press conference after the arraignment, Rensselaer County Assistant District Attorney Carmelo Laquidara thanked the Milligan family for their patience.
“[This was the] most important unsolved case for a long time in our office,” said Laquidara. “It’s a big step, getting this violent guy off the streets so he can’t hurt anyone else.”
“We wanted to make sure we had strong evidence to put ourselves in the best position. Without a conviction he will walk out,” he said, according to New 10.
Deputy Chief Richard McAvoy of the Troy Police Department added, “This was a puzzle that had to be put together piece by piece until we made a determination that we had a real solid case. We didn’t want to be premature. There’s a big difference between probable cause to arrest someone and proof behind a reasonable doubt. And we wanted to stand here before you today and make sure we proof behind a reasonable doubt.”
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Troy’s Police Chief John Tedesco called Vega “a sadistic killer” and said their job is just beginning.
All accounts concur that Vega showed no emotion in the courtroom.