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NYC bodega worker released on reduced bail

Randy Mancini 4 Jul 8
Crime scene police tape in front of blue and red police lights at night. Image by Gerd Altmann

Crime scene police tape in front of blue and red police lights at night. Image by Gerd Altmann

A New York bodega worker who was charged with murder for allegedly defending himself was released from jail after a judge reduced his bail. Manhattan’s District Attorney’s Office said 61-year-old Jose Alba was released from Riker’s Island on Thursday.

After public outcry his bail was lowered from $250,000 to $50,000. Alba’s family said he acted in self-defense when he allegedly killed 35-year-old Austin Simon. According to a criminal complaint, The July 1 incident began when a woman and her 10-year-old daughter entered a bodega around 11 p.m. and tried to purchase snacks. The woman told police that Alba reached over the counter and took the snacks away from the 10-year-old after the transaction didn’t go through. She claimed she then left the store and informed her boyfriend Austin Simon of the clerk’s actions.

Surveillance footage shows Simon confronting Alba behind the counter and then Alba allegedly picked up a knife and fatally stabbed him multiple times in the neck and chest.

“Mr. Alba was simply doing his job when he was aggressively cornered by a much younger and bigger man,” Neighborhood Defender Service wrote in a statement.

61-year-old bodega worker Jose Alba was attacked by an enraged career criminal, Austin Simon, who went behind the counter and choked him over a bag of chips. Alba defended himself, and Simon died. DA Alvin Bragg has charged him with murder.

— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) July 7, 2022

On Thursday, Mayor Eric Adams said he cannot dictate or mandate how Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg prosecutes crimes. Adams added that his heart goes out to the hard-working and honest Alba.

“I am hoping that we take all of that into consideration, as this hard-working New Yorker was doing his job and someone aggressively went behind the counter to attack him,” Adams said. “I support hard-working, innocent people that are doing their job.”

Prosecutors will present the case to a grand jury July 20. They wouldn’t say if the murder charge was still on the table.

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