ITHACA, N.Y. — The arraignment of Cornell student John Greenwood will be delayed by months due to a request by the District Attorney’s Office.
Greenwood was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday morning on misdemeanor charges for third-degree assault and second-degree harassment. Per the request, the arraignment won’t happen until Dec. 1 at Ithaca City Court.
District Attorney Matt Van Houten said the request to delay the arraignment will give prosecutors the chance to present evidence to the grand jury, which will decide if there is probable cause to charge Greenwood with a hate crime.
Van Houten said that in a hypothetical scenario, if a person is charged with a misdemeanor that could increase to felony charges upon further legal proceedings or investigation, that person could easily plead guilty to the misdemeanors during an arraignment and never have to face the felony charge.
In the Greenwood case, Van Houten said a grand jury will decide if a hate crime is committed. A grand jury is responsible for voting on whether there is probable cause to charge a person with a crime.
Per New York State law, a hate crime conviction will increase the severity of the other charges upon sentencing, if Greenwood is found guilty. In that situation, the A misdemeanors will likely become E felonies.
“My intention is to present every possible offense that could be charged to the grand jury in order to ensure that this process is one carefully and done thoroughly and that we end up pursuing the appropriate charges as reviewed by the grand jury and as voted by the Grand Jury,” he said. “The Tompkins County grand jury is responsible for voting whether there’s sufficient evidence to convict someone for a felony charge which would include potential hate crimes in this situation.”
Attorney Ray Schlather, who is representing Greenwood, said the written application is “pretty standard.”