State Senator Hiram Monserrate was arraigned on felony assault charges related to a December incident where he allegedly used a broken glass to hit his girlfriend. Karla Giraldo, who needed 20 stitches and was left with a black eye, initially told hospital staff and police that Monserrate hit her, but later recanted. Outside the courthouse, Monserrate repeated his position, "From the very beginning, I've said this is an accident. Karla has said this is an accident. Ladies and gentlemen, what occurred on December 19 was an accident. This district attorney's office had discussions with me about a plea, a non-felony plea that had attached to it no jail time. I said unequivocally, 'no,' because I am innocent."
Monserrate and his supporters have claimed the Queens DA's office—which went ahead with pressing charges—is getting revenge for Monserrate's previous criticisms of the office. However, prosecutors detailed their evidence, a surveillance tape from Monserrate's apartment building. From the NY Times:
[Assistant DA Scott Kessler] said the video showed Mr. Monserrate emerging from his apartment and throwing an object into a trash chute, which the prosecutor had previously described in court as a Police Benevolent Association card belonging to “another man.”
A few hours later, Mr. Kessler said, the video shows Ms. Giraldo come out of the apartment with a towel pressed to her face and ring a neighbor’s doorbell, after which Mr. Monserrate yanks her away as she tries to cling to a banister.
The judge agreed to extend the existing order of protection between the two, but Giraldo, who appeared in court to get the order removed, kissed Monserrate. The Daily News reports that her own lawyer (in the bathroom at the time) was surprised, asking her, "Did you kiss him in the courtroom?" and shaking his head after she replied, "It's been a long time." Giraldo told reporters, "It was an accident. I don't need an order of protection. It's unnecessary. This is an injustice. I love him."
Monserrate is free on $5,000 bail and his next court appearance is in the summer. He had a group of supporters (wearing images of St. Michael to "ward off evil") present, including Sean Bell shooting victim Joseph Guzman. Guzman said, "The senator supported me when I was in court. Now I am here to support him. I don't know if he is innocent or not, but I think he deserves a fair trial, which many blacks and Latinos don't get in Queens."