TROY (WWJ) – A 38-year-old Troy man could end up spending the rest of his life in prison after being arraigned on several charges in connection with a purse snatching that occurred earlier this month.

James Rutherford Mell was charged Friday in 52-4 District Court with one count of armed robbery, six counts of fraud and one count of operating while intoxicated. Bond was set at $250,000. He’s due back in court on Jan. 22 for the OWI charge, and on Jan. 23 for the other charges.

The charges stem from an incident on Jan. 9 at the Alibi restaurant on Rochester Road in Troy. Police say a woman exited the restaurant around 2:50 p.m. with a carry-out order and placed it into her trunk when she heard a vehicle pull up behind her at a high rate of speed and stop suddenly.

According to police, the woman turned around and saw a white male wearing a black ski mask exit the driver’s side of the vehicle, which was described as a “black Jeep sports utility vehicle.” The woman told police that the man, later identified as Mell, pointed what was believed to be a stainless steel handgun at her and said “give me your purse now.” The woman turned over her purse and the suspect fled the scene in an unknown direction.

Police say the woman was able to obtain a partial reading of vehicle’s license plate numbers, which investigators believed to belong to a Dodge Nitro.

On Jan. 16, an officer on patrol observed a 2008 Dodge Nitro SUV parked in the front yard of a home close to scene of the robbery. With some investigative efforts, police say Mell was positively identified and was arrested after being followed to a local party store. Mell was also found to be intoxicated and later registered a .30 blood alcohol content. The legal limit in Michigan is .08.

Investigators say their extensive search to track down Mell “displays the Troy Police Department’s philosophy to exhaust all efforts to apprehend perpetrators of crimes that adversely affect the life and livability of those who live, work and enjoy Troy.”


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