Jury selection will begin Thursday in the case of a New London man accused of trying to arrange for the murder of another resident in August.
Antonio Pena, 35, of Huntington Street, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Last month, he in which he would have pleaded guilty to the charge and served 14 years in prison, not subject to suspension, with six years of special parole.
The proceedings will begin before Judge Arthur C. Hadden in Norwich due to the judge's availability and a request for a speedy trial.
According to a affidavit, Pena was one of three men involved in a plot to kill a 37-year-old man living on State Pier Road. Witnesses told police Pena and the man used to sell drugs together, but that their relationship soured and Pena suspected the man of repeatedly breaking his car windows. A confidential informant, who told the Clinton Police Department that Pena hired him to be the driver in a murder-for-hire plot, said Pena also suspected that the man was stealing his drug trafficking business while Pena was in a drug treatment program in New Haven.
Pena was convicted of possession of narcotics in July of 2010 in the . He was given a suspended one year prison sentence and 18 months of probation.
The informant told police that he was to join 27-year-old Gerardo Carillo, of Fawn Hill Road in Westbrook, and 29-year-old Elmer Melendez, of Crystal Ave., to kill the man as he left his residence on the morning of Aug. 18. He said Melendez was to point a gun at the man while Carillo came up from behind and stabbed him. They then planned to go to Melendez's residence to burn the clothes they had been wearing and change the vehicle's license plate.
The informant said Pena promised to pay him $1,000 while Melendez was to receive $10,000 and Carillo $5,000. Police observed the informant, Carillo, and Melendez changing the license plate of the vehicle and found a handgun and knife inside after pulling the car over near the intersection of Huntington Street and Williams Street. Pena was arrested the next day in New Haven.
Carillo and Melendez also face conspiracy to commit murder charges, as well as additional charges of attempt to commit murder and possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle. Melendez will next appear in court on July 11, while Carillo will appear in July 30.