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2 face murder charges in Hempstead shooting

Two suspects who police say shot and killed a Hempstead man last month were arraigned yesterday morning on murder charges in a Hempstead courthouse as their distraught mothers looked on.

Both suspects - James Rutledge, 20, of Rockville Centre, and Ramona Butler, 23, of Hempstead - did not speak during their brief arraignments. Each was charged with one count of second-degree murder.

Authorities said Rutledge and Butler shot and killed Melvin Wells, 39, of Hempstead, on Nov. 4 while fleeing a robbery. Neither suspect was charged with robbery. The shooting occurred at 8:35 p.m. in front of a home on Linden Avenue in Hempstead, police said.

A Legal Aide attorney, who represented both suspects, entered not guilty pleas and asked the presiding judge to set bail. First District Court Judge Terrence Murphy ordered Butler and Rutledge held without bail.

Rutledge and Butler are lifelong residents of Nassau and both live with their mothers, according to the attorney.

When Butler's mother emerged from the courtroom after her daughter was arraigned on a murder charge, she hugged a relative of Rutledge.

She, and Rutledge's mother, declined to comment.

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