New York bodega worker faces murder charges after fatally stabbing man who attacked him

Bodega clerk Jose Alba, 61, was working at the Blue Moon Convenient Store in Upper Manhattan on the night of July 1 when he got into a fatal altercation with a man named Austin Simon, according to a copy of Alba’s criminal complaint. Alba was also allegedly stabbed by Simon’s girlfriend during the incident, the complaint states.

Simon’s girlfriend had left the store after her payment was declined while trying to buy a snack for her daughter, and she returned to the store with Simon.

The New York Post obtained surveillance video of the incident and reported that the woman was heard saying “my n—– gonna come over here right now and fuck you” shortly before. until Simon arrives at the store.

According to the complaint, surveillance video showed Simon carrying a white towel in one hand, entering the area behind the counter where Alba was sitting, then pushing him.

“Mr. Simon then put the towel in his pocket and attempted to lead the accused out of the area behind the counter, but the accused picked up a kitchen knife which was hidden behind the counter and stabbed Mr. Simon to the neck and chest at least five times,” the complaint reads.

The complaint states that Simon’s girlfriend tried to pull Alba away from Simon, holding her right arm, but he continued to stab Simon. The complaint says Simon’s girlfriend, who is not identified, then pulled a knife from her purse and stabbed Alba. She is not currently the subject of any charges, according to a spokesperson for the prosecution.

Simon died later that evening “from stab wounds to the neck and torso”, the complaint states.

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“He wanted me to come and apologize to the girl. I took the knife we ​​use to open the boxes and stabbed him,” Alba told an investigator, according to the complaint.

Alba was arrested by police on July 2 and charged with one count of second-degree murder. Alba has not pleaded guilty, according to Emily Whitfield, a spokeswoman for her attorney.

Alice Fontier, executive director of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, which provides legal services to the community and represents Alba, said in a statement to CNN that Alba was defending herself during the incident.

“The video in this case speaks for itself: Mr. Alba was simply doing his job when he was aggressively cornered by a much younger and taller man,” Fontier said in the statement.

Alba has worked in bodegas since emigrating to New York 35 years ago from the Dominican Republic in search of a better life, Fontier said, adding that he worked at the bodega where the incident occurred during three years.

“He worked hard to earn his US citizenship 18 years ago and has been a constant source of support for his children and grandchildren,” Fontier said.

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Prosecutors decided to lower Alba’s bail after the clerk was held at Riker’s Island for several days, telling a hearing they had conversations with the defense attorney about the proposal of a bond that balances the facts of the case. He was released on $50,000 bail, partially guaranteed by the owners of the bodega where Alba worked. Doug Cohen, spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, told CNN, “We continue to review the evidence and the investigation is ongoing.”

Alba is due back in court on July 20.

Group urges DA to drop murder charge

On Sunday, Fernando Mateo, speaking on behalf of the United Bodegas of America, said he and other representatives of the organization should meet with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to urge prosecutors to drop the murder charge. of Alba.

“Jose Alba has our full support,” Mateo said. “Our town is in crisis and at this point we’re just sick of people stealing, looting, attacking, mugging, killing our small business owners.”

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams also voiced his support for Alba, saying that after seeing surveillance video of the incident, he felt Alba “was under attack and we have to take that into account when we take these decisions”, in July. 8 radio interview. Adams said while the NYPD made the arrest, it’s ultimately up to the DA to decide whether to press charges.

“Prosecutors have no warrant. No one can dictate how they decide to prosecute a case and my role is never to interfere with the police. I have never called the police since to tell the police to make an arrest, not make an arrest. . I don’t do that, it’s independent. Prosecutors are independent. My role is very clear,” Adams said.

New York Self Defense Law

Mateo said current New York laws involving the use of deadly force in self-defense must change.

Criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman told CNN that under New York state law, a person can only use deadly force in self-defense if they “reasonably believe” that the person whose she fights back is about to use deadly force.

The law also states that a person using lethal force in self-defense has a “duty to stand down” from a threat, Lichtman said.

“The reason they arrested him was because their position was that the defendant was not facing deadly force,” Lichtman said.

Although Lichtman understands why Alba was charged under New York state law, he believes that no reasonable juror would convict Alba of murder in this case.

“If I were defending him, I would say, ‘He’s a little older man and he’s got this very angry, very physical guy standing in front of him, shoving him around and clearly about to attack him. about to die and that’s why he grabbed everything he could,” Lichtman said.

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