Split verdict in UAlbany bus case, defense attorneys claim partial victory
April 27, 2017 07:40 AM
ALBANY - Asha Burwell and Ariel Agudio emerged from the courtroom moments after a jury reached a split verdict about a January 2016 brawl on a CDTA bus Wednesday.
Although they were cleared of most charges, Burwell's attorney Frederick Brewington said their fight is not over.
“In part now they have been fully vindicated and the rest of that process is yet to come,” Brewington said.
“Not guilty verdicts on really the overwhelming majority of the charges, I'm very grateful for,” said Mark Mishler, who is representing Agudio.
Burwell and Agudio are two of three black former University at Albany students accused of lying about what they called a racially motivated attack.
Authorities said bus surveillance video showed otherwise.
After a six-day trial, the two women were acquitted on five of seven counts, including assault and harassment.
However, they were each found guilty of two counts of falsely reporting an incident.
That means jurors believed they lied during their 911 calls, in public, and on social media.
Both attorneys for the women say a trial could have been avoided.
“They should have been willing to treat this in a reasonable manner from the beginning. Charges were not necessary. An indictment was not necessary,” Mishler said.
In a statement, District Attorney David Soares said, "Falsely reported incidents create immeasurable harm, not the least of which is the doubt, cynicism, and suspicion a person with a legitimate claim will likely receive in the future,"
A third suspect, Alexis Briggs, already pleaded guilty for her role in the incident.
Burwell and Agudio’s attorneys will consider their options regarding the misdemeanors they were found guilty of, which carry up one year in jail for each count.
They hope the case sparks a larger conversation about race.
“The dialogue concerning race and implicit bias and how people treat each other when they speak to each other and address each other and the language that they use needs to be carefully evaluated,” Brewington said.
The incident took place during a CDTA bus ride last year.
Burwell and Agudio are due back in court for sentencing on June 16.
Updated: April 27, 2017 07:40 AM
Created: April 27, 2017 12:06 AM
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