Nathan Poffenbarger ’08 has been indicted on four counts of assault as a hate crime in relation to the Feb. 18 stabbing of Charles Holiday, a visiting Union College senior. Three of the counts were for assault in the second degree as a hate crime and one was for assault in the first degree as a hate crime. In addition, the grand jury indicted Poffenbarger for tampering with physical evidence. In all, if found guilty, Poffenbarger faces 8 to 25 years in jail.
When Gwen Wilkinson, Tompkins County District Attorney, was asked whether she was happy with the charges handed down, she said, “I believe the facts support this.”
She cautioned, however, that Poffenbarger is innocent until proven guilty.
“It is important for the community members to keep that in mind,” Wilkinson said.
The indictment was the first stage in the case moving to the higher court, and the next step is for Poffenbarger to appear for an arraignment, which Wilkinson said was set for Friday at 11 a.m.
Wilkinson said that the tampering charge stems from Poffenbarger’s alleged concealment and destruction of a knife used in the stabbing. She declined to specify what type of knife was used.
She also said that she felt the crime was caused by a “racial animus” and was motivated wholly or in part by racist beliefs. Poffenbarger is white, while Holiday, who has since recovered from a punctured lung, is black.
She said that although hate crime charges are difficult to prove, the jury could infer his state of mind from the facts of the case.
When contacted, Poffenbarger declined to comment on the case.
He said that he was currently in between attorneys. Earlier in the day, a receptionist for James A. Baker law ’80, the lawyer who had been representing Poffenbarger, said that Baker was on medical leave and was unsure whether or not he was still representing Poffenbarger.
In a release today, Tommy Bruce, vice president of communications, stated, “The stabbing and its aftermath has been a traumatic experience for everyone. We are confident in the judicial system and its appropriate handling of this matter.”
Archived article by Michael Morisy
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