Daniel Penny, the 24 year-old ex-Marine that choked out mentally ill homeless man Jordan Neely on a May 1st F train–resulting in second-degree manslaughter charges–has issued a “not guilty” plea at this June 28th arraignment at the New York State Supreme Court. Judge Maxwell Wiley managed the proceedings. The hearing was brief, clocking in at just over five minutes.
If convicted, he could face up to anywhere from five to twenty-five years in prison. The choking incident has become something of a local and national lightning rod, sparking sharp condemnation from leftists and paeans to Penny’s alleged upholding of public safety from right-wingers (who have raised millions of dollars in grassroots donations on his behalf).
Penny had put Neely, a 30 year-old Michael Jackson impersonator, in what is known in the Marines as a “blood choke” after he had begun yelling about being hungry and at the end of his rope on the train. Witnesses claimed that Penny had held the stranglehold for up to fifteen minutes, but he disputed that characterization in a video posted by his lawyers; according to Penny, it was a mere five-minute chokehold. Neely fell unconscious and eventually died from asphyxiation.
Outside the courthouse after the arraignment, Penny’s attorney Steven M. Raiser gave a statement to the press: “[Penny] won’t be the only one on trial. The right and duty to defend one another will be on trial too...on May 1st, 2023, Danny defended his fellow-travelers.”
At the same press conference, Donte Mills, an attorney representing Neely’s family, said that “[Penny] took a life, 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.” He also proclaimed that Penny “did not have the courage” to make eye contact with Neely’s father Andre Zachery, who had attended the arraignment.