NY Sen. Monserrate found guilty of misdemeanor assault
Friday, October 16, 2009
New York State Senator Hiram Monserrate was found guilty of misdemeanor assault Thursday, in the criminal trial involving an alleged attack on his girlfriend Karla Giraldo. Monserrate will face sentencing on the misdemeanor assault conviction on December 4.
Monserrate had also faced charges of felony assault, but he was not convicted of these charges. The misdemeanor assault conviction means Monserrate is guilty of "recklessly causing physical injury" to Giraldo. Monserrate could be sentenced to one year in jail for the misdemeanor assault conviction.
The prosecution had asserted that when Monserrate discovered that his girlfriend had the business card of another man, he chose to strike out at her. Monserrate entered a plea of not guilty to charges he sliced his girlfriend's face with broken glass during a conflict at their apartment on December 19, 2008. The defense team denied that the injury to the woman by Monserrate was intentional, instead claiming that the incident was "an accident" and the result of Monserrate tripping while bringing Giraldo a glass of water.
A police detective that first investigated the crime scene testified about the bloody evidence discovered at Monserrate's apartment, including broken glass, blood, towels covered in blood, and a ripped women's t-shirt. Forensic biologist Ewilina Badja said that the majority of the blood found at the crime scene had originated from one woman. Prosecutors asserted that this woman is Giraldo, who was treated for injuries surrounding her left eye that took approximately 40 stitches to remedy. Badja identified blood on a male green shirt found in the bathroom sink as that of Monserrate.
An emergency physician that had treated Giraldo stated in court that Monserrate's girlfriend asserted to her that her injuries were not the result of an accident. Though the defense has argued that Giraldo, who is from Ecuador, may have been difficult to understand – the physician stated she conversed with Monserrate's girlfriend in both Spanish and in English.
|Whether or not the public is going to stand for somebody who has been convicted of a criminal act...|
—Patricia Salkin, Albany Law School
Queens Supreme Court Justice William Erlbaum judged the case without a jury, as Monserrate waived his right for a trial before his peers. The group National Organization for Women had requested that the judge rule Monserrate should be given "the maximum sentence allowable by law". If he had been convicted of a felony, Democrat Sen. Monserrate could have automatically lost his New York State Senate seat. Monserrate did not testify during the criminal trial against him.
|There are no winners here today.|
WXXI reported that Patricia Salkin of the Government Law Center at Albany Law School, said state Senators may be faced with political issues if they do not do something about Monserrate's continued presence as a Senator. Salkin stated that the issue was: "Whether or not the public is going to stand for somebody who has been convicted of a criminal act, and act of domestic violence in this case, to be allowed to continue." According to WXXI, Senate rules do not state that a misdemeanor conviction means a politician must be removed from office, it is within the power of the New York Senate to initiate procedures to oust a sitting Senator. WXXI reported that leaders within the Democratic party in the New York Senate were debating whether to being proceedings to remove Monserrate from his seat. WNYC reported that the Senators are deciding whether or not to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Monserrate.
|There is no room in government or in the Democratic Party for people who commit such heinous crimes against women. Hiram Monserrate must be swiftly removed from office.|
The New York Daily News reported that Monserrate gave a statement outside the courthouse after the ruling, and continued to describe the injury to Giraldo's face as a "terrible accident". He referred to Giraldo as ""a person who I love". Monserrate stated that: "I have to live with that forever. There are no winners here today." Monserrate's attorney, Joseph Tacopina, believed that his client would not serve any jail time. "On a reckless misdemeanor, first offense, he won't go to jail," said Tacopina.
New York City Council member Eric Gioia was the first Democratic politician to publicly request that Monserrate resign from his post as a member of the New York State Senate. Gioia released a statement which said: "There is no room in government or in the Democratic Party for people who commit such heinous crimes against women. Hiram Monserrate must be swiftly removed from office. Elected officials should rightfully be held to a higher standard, and New Yorkers deserve better representation than a convicted perpetrator of domestic violence." Gioia stated that "the circumstances revealed in the trial ... truly shock the conscience."
Monserrate is a former New York City police officer. Prior to becoming a member of the New York State Senate, he was a city councilman. He became a member of the New York State Senate weeks after the alleged conflict with Giraldo, and was made chair of the committee overseeing consumer affairs. Along with Democrat Pedro Espada Jr., Monserrate started a shift in control of the Senate by aligning with the Republican Party. Monserrate is currently allied with the Democrats in the New York Senate, and if he is removed from his seat the ratio of Democrats to Republicans would be 31-30.
- "Police describe bloody evidence in NY Sen. Monserrate assault trial" — Wikinews, October 1, 2009
- "Emergency doctor testifies in NY State Sen. Hiram Monserrate felony assault case" — Wikinews, September 26, 2009
- "Prosecutors begin NY State Sen. Hiram Monserrate felony assault case" — Wikinews, September 22, 2009
- Peter Milosheff. "Sen. Monserrate Must Be Removed" — , October 15, 2009
- "Monserrate Convicted of Misdemeanor Assault" — , October 15, 2009
- Karen DeWitt. "Monseratte Convicted of Misdemeanor" — , October 15, 2009
- Thomas Zambito and Corky Siemaszko. "State Sen. Hiram Monserrate convicted of misdemeanor assault, not guilty of felonies, may keep seat" — , October 15, 2009
- Tom Precious. "Monserrate found guilty of lesser charge" — , October 15, 2009
- Associated Press. "Monserrate acquitted of felony charges" — , October 15, 2009