The college student accused of stabbing two at an off-campus dorm last month did so in self defense in an incident that began over allegations of stolen food, his attorney told a judge today.
Henzlee R. Miranda, 21, of the Bronx, was arraigned this morning on a new indictment charging him with two top counts of first-degree assault. He avoided equally serious charges of attempted murder that he originally faced.
He pleaded not guilty.
Miranda's attorney Mark Gaylord recounted his client's self defense claim and cited the lack of the original attempted murder counts in asking Judge Guido Loyola to lower the previously set $100,000 bail figure. Miranda has remained in custody.
Miranda is accused of stabbing the two men inside the College Suites at Washington Square at about 2 p.m. Feb. 15. The facility is a privately-owned student housing complex across from the Schenectady County Community College campus.
The facility caters to students and Miranda was enrolled at the school at the time. Gaylord noted that Miranda has been formally suspended.
Gaylord noted blood in Miranda's bedroom, as well as damage to a door that he said bolstered Miranda's self-defense claims. Miranda testified at the grand jury, Gaylord said.
Gaylord said the stabbings were preceded by a "verbal discussion" about one of the victims taking Miranda's food from his suite.
Shortly afterward, that person and two others returned, entered Miranda's suite and his private bedroom and attacked Miranda, Gaylord said.
Miranda was defending himself, he said.
"Mr. Miranda woke up that morning a college student with no criminal history whatsoever," Gaylord said. "He did not anticipate any of this happening that day."
Prosecutor Michael DeMatteo responding to the self-defense claims, saying they were "certainly a version of events."
"There is also a version of events from the other side," he said.
DeMatteo said there is evidence that Miranda threatened the victims prior to the argument and further evidence refuting the claims from the incident itself.
DeMatteo argued against lowering bail, noting accounts going against Miranda's self-defense claims, along with accusations that Miranda fled the scene and disposed of evidence.
DeMatteo also noted the technical top sentence in the case: 50 years, amounting from possible consecutive sentences of 25 years in prison.
The first-degree assault counts are on the same legal level as the originally included attempted murder counts, he noted.
Judge Loyola, acting in Schenectady County Court, had previously set bail or bond at $100,000. Gaylord argued Miranda's family had no means to make that amount.
A visibly frustrated Gaylord left the courtroom after the proceedings.
Miranda's relatives sobbed in the hallway. They declined to comment.
Miranda fled the scene afterward, DeMatteo noted. Police identified him through surveillance video at the suites and he was found a short time later.
DeMatteo also noted that there is evidence that Miranda was making efforts to leave the city and return to the Bronx after the stabbings.
The first reports of the incident came as the two victims fled the suits to the Stockade Market and Deli across State Street.
Both victims were stabbed in the torso and taken to Albany Medical Center via ambulance for treatment.