A Manhattan grand jury Friday cleared a 19-year-old criminal justice student charged with fatally stabbing two subway riders, believing his self defense claims.
Brenddy Garcia said he lashed out with a folding knife after being struck over the head with an open beer bottle and beaten by rowdies on board a Manhattan subway last March, officials said.
His attackers had yanked his clothing over his head so he couldn't see who or what was striking him and surrounded, he feared that "he was about to be killed," said a statement from the Manhattan District Attorney.
Fatally stabbed on the No. 2 train at the Christopher Street station in Greenwich Village on March 28th were Ricardo Williams of Flatbush and Darnell Morell, of Newark, both 24-years-old. A third man, Marc Joseph, 23, of Flatbush survived his stab wounds.
"Brenddy Garcia never wanted this to happen, he never intended to kill anyone," said his defense attorney Lawrence Fredella who said that his client had been distraught since the confrontation.
At first, prosecutors believed that Garcia had overreacted when a group of 10 men returning from a bar threw a bag of beer bottles at him. However witnesses backed up Garcia's self defense story, saying the rowdies had also bothered a homeless man and a woman onboard the southbound train just before 5 a.m.
When the beer bottles landed near him, Garcia threw the bag back to the group, saying "Are we good?" according to the DA. However that only infuriated the men, and one, Joseph, broke a beer bottle over Garcia's head, the prosecutor said.
Surrounded and pummeled by the group, "Mr. Garcia produced a folding knife he was carrying in his pocket, and swung it repeatedly, in an attempt to free himself from this beating," said DA Cyrus Vance.
"The investigation raised significant evidence of self defense," said Vance.
Attorney Fredella said that his client had taken to carrying a folding knife after being seriously stabbed on a Bushwick street in 2007. He had been on the subway with four friends in the predawn hours that March morning, returning from a baby shower in the Bronx.