Monserrate Maintains Innocence at Arraignment
by Shane MIller
Mar 31, 2009 | 3172 views | 1 1 comments | 90 90 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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State Senator Hiram Monserrate made an appearance in a Queens County courtroom last week to plead not guilty to charges that he physically assaulted his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, during an altercation this past December.

After leaving the courtroom, Monserrate addressed the throng of reporters and television cameras that had gathered on the steps of Queens County Courthouse.

“I want to make, for the record, the following statement,” Monserrate began. “From the very beginning, I have said this was an accident. Karla has said this was an accident. Ladies and gentleman, what occurred on December 19 was an accident.”

That, however, is not what the Queen district attorney’s office believes.

Last week, the D.A.’s office handed down a six-count indictment charging Monserrate with both felony and misdemeanor assault charges – charges that could land him behind bars for up to seven years if he is found guilty.

Prosecutors state that Monserrate became enraged with Giraldo after he found another man’s business card in her purse, and in the heat of the moment slashed her face with a broken water glass.

Monserrate contends that he was getting into bed when he tripped and fell into Giraldo, at which point the water glass broke and caused the gash, which required 20 stitches to close.

Surveillance tape from a video camera in Monserrate’s Jackson Heights condo building shows Giraldo in the hallway frantically knocking on doors asking for help immediately following the incident, as well as Monserrate dragging Giraldo by the hair.

After watching the video, the judge noted at the arraignment that the “tape speaks for itself.” After the proceedings, Monserrate’s lawyer, Irving Seidman, argued that the tape showed that Monserrate was trying to help Giraldo.

“I believe it does [speak for itself], and again, there’s a misuse of a piece of evidence,” Seidman said. “What Hiram Monserrate was doing was taking Karla Giraldo to the hospital.”

Another curious aspect of the case is that Monserrate drove Giraldo to Long Island Jewish Hospital on the border between Queens and Nassau counties, despite the fact that he lives just blocks from Elmhurst Hospital.

At Long Island Jewish, Giraldo reportedly told doctors and nurses that Monserrate had hit her, but later told investigators and a grand jury that the whole incident was an accident.

Giraldo joined Monserrate in court last Friday morning, and was even reportedly seen stealing a kiss from the state senator. Minutes later, the judge in the case, Supreme Court Justice William Erlbaum, issued a full order of protection ordering Monserrate to stay away from Giraldo.

Giraldo spoke briefly with reporters after the arraignment, and maintained that her injuries were the result of an accident.

Monserrate told reporters last Friday morning that he was offered a plea deal by the district attorney, but turned it down.

“The district attorney’s office had a discussion with me about a plea, a non-felony plea that had attached to it no jail time,” he said. “I said unequivocally no to that because I am innocent and this is an accident.”

Additional reporting by Holly Tsang

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April 05, 2009