ITHACA, N.Y. – An Ithaca man who was accused of trying to rob a person of their backpack earlier this year pleaded not guilty to the charge in Tompkins County Court on Thursday morning.

Christopher Hartman, 41, was charged with third-degree attempted robbery after a person reported that someone tried to rob the backpack off her back on Oct. 10. Police say the victim was walking on West Clinton Street at the time of the incident. According to court records, the victim reported that the man fled after a brief struggle.

Police say they identified Hartman later after the victim provided a description of the person who attacked her.

Hartman appeared for his arraignment on Thursday morning with his attorney David Bahn, who requested temporary release until sentencing.

“It is very likely this case will go to trial,” Bahn said. “If he messes up in any way, he will go back to jail – the new assessment of the jail was designed to place people back into the community in very conscientious ways.”

Bahn pointed out that Hartman was involved in various community projects up until his arrest including Habitat for Humanity and the re-entry program at the Hangar Theater.

“Having grown up here I’ve always strived to be a productive part of the community,” Hartman said. “I feel I would be more productive in a free world than wasting away in a correctional facility.”

Prosecuting attorney Dan Johnson, however, disagreed with this point.

“The defendant’s lengthy criminal history suggests that he has difficulty abiding by the law,” he said.

Judge John C. Rowley, who pointed out that the defendant didn’t have a current address and has been banned from the local shelter, remanded Hartman to the Tompkins County Jail, where his bail is set for $5,000 cash or $10,000 bail bond.

“You’re not working, you’re not receiving public assistance and you have way too many arrests and convictions,” Rowley said.

Hartman is due to return to court for a conference on Jan. 19.

Alyvia Covert

Alyvia is a Crime Reporter with The Ithaca Voice. She graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Journalism and Photography.