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Did Cyan Brown kill a 29-year-old Queensbridge man in an act of self-defense or in cold blood? It depends on whether you ask Queens prosecutors or Brown’s defense attorney.
Brown, 16, was ordered held on $300,000 bail Dec. 30 after she was charged in the manslaughter of Thomas Winston on Christmas Eve.
Queens DA Richard Brown said the teen stabbed Winston following an argument in a fast food restaurant near the Queensbridge subway station.
“Based upon our review of the evidence, Ms. Brown has been charged with first-degree manslaughter — that is to say, that it is alleged that she intended to cause serious physical injury to her victim and, in the process, she caused his death,” DA Brown said in a statement.
The details of that alleged scuffle between Cyan Brown and Winston was murky and her lawyer, Samuel Gregory, and the DA have two different stories.
Gregory said Cyan Brown was hanging out with a group of teen boys who lived in another neighborhood and were heckled by Winston, who the defense attorney claims was drunk and cursing.
“She knew his reputation. He would not leave it alone,” Gregory told Queens Criminal Court Judge Lenora Gerald during Cyan Brown’s arraignment last week.
The defense attorney said the argument heated up and at one point Winston poured beer on Cyan Brown’s head and pushed her in the face. Winston was going to resort to more violence, but the teen took out a knife and stabbed the man in his chest before he attacked her and ran off in a subway, according to Gregory.
“There was no question in their minds that they would get severely beaten or killed from being part of a different neighborhood,” the attorney said of the teen and her friends.
Assistant District Attorney Naomi Schneidnill rebutted the self-defense claim. Based on the evidence that the police gathered from witnesses and surveillance footage from the crime scene, Schneidnill said that after Cyan Brown brandished her knife, Winston backed up but slipped on some ice. While he was on the ground, the teen allegedly stabbed him in the chest and fled the scene, according to the prosecutor.
“The evidence for the people does not support the defense,” Schneidnill said.
Gregory reminded the judge that the teen’s family called his office and negotiated a surrender with the 114th Precinct last week.
“I prepared her for what has happened,” the attorney said following the arraignment.
The defense attorney also noted Winston had a criminal record. He served jail time twice for drug charges and was supposed to attend a court hearing this week for another drug arrest, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.
Cyan Brown’s next court date is Jan. 13. If convicted of the manslaughter charge, she could face 25 years to life in prison, the Queens DA’s office said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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