Two of the three University at Albany students charged with falsely reporting a racially-motivated attack on a CDTA bus in January were back in court Friday morning.
Asha Burwell and Ariel Agudio were given a second chance in a plea bargain to avoid prosecution in the bus fight, an event some label a "race hoax." Allegations that three African American females were called racial slurs and physically attacked divided communities and added to racial woes the city of Albany was experiencing following the police taser death of Dontay Ivy.
The incident cut like a knfe across the UAlbany campus, as Black Lives Matter joined the three students to rip the college and police agencies over the purported crime. Even Hillary Clinton sent out a tweet in support of the three, which she has not rescinded.
Authorities, led by Albany County D.A. David Soares, took weeks to sort out the details, interviewing the students, listening to 911 tapes, reviewing bus video, finally concluding that the students’ account of events the wee hours of January 30 didn't hold water.
Burwell and Agudio were charged with misdemeanor assault and falsely reporting an incident. Alexis Briggs was charged with misdemeanor assault. The 20-year-olds were indicted in May by a grand jury after turning down an offer to publicly apologize for the incident.
Burwell's lawyer Frederick Brewington spoke briefly with the media as he and Burwell entered the Albany County Judicial Center Friday morning.
"Good morning, guys, how are ya! We're not gonna make any statement right now but we'll talk to ya when we come out, OK?"
Before Judge Stephen Herrick, Burwell and Agudio were adamant as they rejected yet another plea deal. Here, Herrick addresses Agudio and her attorney, Mark Mishler. "The proposal here is that you resolve indictment 27842 by a plea of guilty to count 8 of the indictment, falsely reporting an incident in the third degree, a class A misdemeanor in violation of section 240.50 subdivision 3c and reducing the first count of the indictment, harassment in the 2nd degree, a non-criminal violation, in violation of section 240.26 subdivision 1, and receive a sentence of time served and a conditional discharge that you'd be responsible for unpaid uninsured medical expenses of Mary Glisson, one of the alleged victims, and 100 hours of community service. You'd be required to pay a $200 surcharge victim fee, $50 DNA databank fee, any order of protection deemed necessary by the people in the court would be issued at the time of sentencing and you would be waiving and giving up your right to appeal if you accepted that offer and entered pleas of guilty."
Agudio and Burwell stand accused of hitting the 19-year-old Glisson "multiple times,” according to court paperwork.
Burwell and Agudio maintained they were victims of a “racist” assault. Both have been expelled from the University at Albany. The third student involved, Alexis Briggs, has been suspended for two years. She is due back in Albany County Court on Tuesday.
The D.A.'s office says a trial date for Burwell and Agudio is set for September 26th.