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A New York judge set bail on Sunday for a bodega worker arrested and charged with murder over the deadly stabbing of a homeless man who allegedly violently attack his elderly boss on the street.
Kenneth Gowdy, 54, of the Bronx, was arrested and charged with murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon in connection to the death of a 59-year-old homeless man named Kenneth Fair.
The deadly incident unfolded around noon Saturday when a 78-year-old manager at Magic 7 Smoke Shop in the Bronx was carrying boxes inside and Fair began to complain. The homeless man intentionally bumped into the manager and took a swing at him, N.Y. Daily News reported, citing police sources.
During an arraignment hearing in Bronx Criminal Court on Sunday, prosecutors accused Gowdy of coming up from behind Fair, putting the homeless man in a chokehold and stabbing him in the right upper chest following the altercation. But Gowdy’s defense attorney, Stacey Richman, contended that the fatal episode was justified because her client was defending his manager.
“This was not murder,” Richman told the courtroom on Sunday, according to N.Y. Daily News. “The deceased attacked his boss and he wanted to protect him.”
“He thought he was going to kill his boss,” she added. “His only concern was to protect his boss.”
Judge Leticia Ramirez ultimately set bail at $5,000 cash, or $25,000 partially secured bond and $25,000 insurance bond. Richman said Gowdy’s family planned on posting the money, but his release was still pending as of Sunday night. The attorney added that Gowdy had been crying to her before the court hearing.
“He is devastated,” Richman said. “We believe in our system, and we believe in the justice of the system, and that this man should be exonerated.”
Gowdy has two prior felonies on his record. He reportedly worked for the Parks Department for two decades but was fired after being charged with forcible touching in 2011.
Meanwhile, Fair’s arrest record stretched back to 1989 and included multiple assaults, robbery and criminal weapon possession charges, a source told the newspaper.
Richman claimed that Gowdy has “righted himself” over the past decade, disputed the forcible touching charge as a “false allegation,” and after his termination from the Parks Department, had “volunteered his time at the bodega” located around the corner from where he lives until it turned into a job.
“His work ethic was on point. I’ve never seen him hot-tempered, he’s always calm,” Tylique Miles, whose brother owns the smoke shop, told the Daily News of Gowdy. “It was an unfortunate situation that could have been totally avoided. Someone died.”
Gowdy’s wife of 13 years and her son reportedly attended the arraignment and embraced Richman afterward.
This comes following recent controversy earlier this month involving 61-year-old Manhattan bodega worker Jose Alba, who was arrested and charged with the murder of a man captured on surveillance video first coming behind the counter and attacking Alba during a potential attempted robbery.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg faced widespread backlash after Alba was held at the notorious Rikers Island jail complex for about a week despite video suggesting the worker fatally stabbed his attacker in self-defense. Bragg’s office later backtracked, and a judge dropped the murder charge.