Teen sisters back in court

POUGHKEEPSIE – The two teenage sisters who were arrested for their alleged involvement in an altercation in March appeared in Dutchess County Family Court again on Wednesday. 

`The sisters gained notoriety when a 15-second video clip of the incident appeared showing one of the girls being forced to the ground by a City of Poughkeepsie police officer.  The teenager allegedly suffered a concussion as a result of the takedown.  The girls were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct.

At their first appearance, the teens were released to their mother and ordered to report to Dutchess County Probation on a weekly basis.  At a second hearing, their attorney William Wagstaff petitioned the court to rescind the probation order.  Judge Tracy Makenzie declined but did reduce the reporting requirement to bi-weekly.  

On Wednesday, students from the Black Student Union at Vassar College joined a few students from Marist College and community activists on the steps of the courthouse to rally in support of the girls, Jamelia and Julissa.  

The rally, according to their flyer, was to “Stand together to drop the unjust charges against them.”  

Attorney Wagstaff was at the rally along with his clients, and maintained “They were unlawfully arrested, the force that was used was excessive, and they want something to be done.”  

County Legislator Giancarlo Llaverias joined the rally.  Llaverias indicated that he was there to show support for the teens whom he said were “really, really traumatized,” as a result of the incident.

After the court appearance, Wagstaff exited the courthouse and reported that Judge Makenzie had granted his request to remove the probation requirement.  The teens no longer have to report to the probation department. Wagstaff called the latest decision “A step in the right direction.”  

The attorney noted that he is in negotiations with the Dutchess County Attorney’s Office, which is responsible for the prosecution of the case.  “Anything short of a dismissal of the petition against both of these girls, for me, would not be justice.”  Asked if he would seek an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal, Wagstaff said negotiations are taking place.  “Our position is that there will be no admission that they’ve done anything wrong, because they didn’t do anything wrong.”  

The teens are scheduled to be back in court in December.

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