On Wednesday (June 28th), the 24-year-old Penny was in a Manhattan courtroom with his legal team for the arraignment, pleading “not guilty” to charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. The criminally negligent homicide charge was added earlier this month by a grand jury. If the former Marine was to be convicted on that lesser charge, he would face a sentence of up to four years in prison as opposed to a sentence of up to 15 years if convicted of manslaughter. Judge Maxwell Riley did not set a date for the trial before adjourning, but the Manhattan District Attorney’s office stated that Penny is to appear back in court on October 25th.
“All the evidence we’ve seen is that our client acted reasonably under the circumstances,” said Thomas Kenniff, one of Penny’s lawyers at a press conference after the arraignment. “Danny isn’t the only one on trial,” said Steven Raiser, the other attorney. “The rights of people to defend one another will be on a trial too.” Penny is currently free on bond.
Donte Mills, an attorney for the Neely family, also spoke after the arraignment to reporters. “For anybody who’s curious: No, Daniel Penny did not have the courage to look Mr. Jordan’s father, Andre, in the eye,” Mr. Mills began. “But from now on, don’t be shocked when justice happens for Jordan, for you, or for anyone.” He also referenced the online crowdfunding campaign organized by Penny’s attorneys. “And for everyone who thought donating $3 million would somehow make this go away or buy his pass: It’s not going to happen. It didn’t work.”
The death of Neely, a Black man who was unhoused and struggling with mental health issues has illuminated a divide in public opinion with some praising Penny, who is white, for being a “Good Samaritan” by his actions including Republican presidential candidates Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy. Penny has stated that he placed the 31-year-old in the chokehold after he was allegedly yelling he was “ready to die” at passengers on the train. The incident was partially caught on video by another passenger.
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