POLITICS

Canadian women accused of champagne bottle attack in Manhattan still jailed

07/20/2015 03:17 EDT | Updated 07/20/2016 05:59 EDT
Three Canadian women accused of gashing an American woman's face with a champagne bottle at an upscale Times Square hotel began a second week in custody Monday amid difficulties posting bail.

In addition, prosecutors have persuaded a judge to grant them more time to win an indictment against the southern Ontario trio.

Monique Boakye-Yiadom, 35, of Brampton, Aleesha Williams, 26, of Mississauga, and Amy Walker, 30, of Kitchener, were charged with gang assault — for allegedly acting together in the attack — assault, and criminal possession of a weapon.

The women were arrested early last week as they drove from New York to New Jersey.

According to the Manhattan district attorney, the complainant, 35, accused Boakye-Yiadom of striking her in the face with a bottle causing a black eye and deep gash. The other two, according to the document, hit her with drinking glasses on the back of her head, causing bruising and cuts.

The victim, originally from Stamford, Conn., needed 36 stitches to close a nasty gash to her face.

Lawyer Natasha Lapiner-Giresi, who represents Boakye-Yiadom, said her client is adamant she did nothing wrong.

"My client did not hit her with anything," Lapiner-Giresi told The Canadian Press from New York. "My client did not cause her injury."

To obtain an indictment, the district attorney initially planned to have a grand jury investigate last week. Instead, at a lesser-used preliminary hearing before a judge that lasted several hours on Friday, the prosecution laid out its case and defence lawyers cross-examined witnesses.

According to evidence at the hearing, the victim accepted an invitation from a man who knew the Canadians to go party with those "cool girls" at the W hotel in Manhattan. The man, woman and two of his male friends then drove from a suburb to the hotel, where they continued drinking in a room with the three Canadians.

The complainant told the court she began to feel unwelcome and decided to leave. A heated argument ensued, "nasty things" were said and she was suddenly struck with the bottle, court heard.

"I don't think the victim testified credibly," said Gregory Gomez, the lawyer for Williams. "I don't think she can properly identify who did what and what actually occurred."

At the end of the hearing, the judge decided there were probable grounds to conclude a crime had occurred, and granted another 45 days for the prosecution to come up with an indictment. Otherwise, authorities would have had to release them on their own recognizance.

The women can still pledge $30,000 for release on bail pending an Aug. 28 appearance but their collateral property is in Canada, making acceptance in New York state difficult, their lawyers said.

The defence also expressed shock that police released the women's mug shots, especially since identification issues are at play.

"You've tainted the identification forever," Lapiner-Giresi said. "There are a lot of conflicting stories. It still needs to be sorted out."