DA’s Office Says It Won’t Offer Misdemeanor Plea Deal To Alleged WTC Jumpers
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The attorney for a group of men accused of BASE jumping off 1 World Trade Center last fall told a judge Tuesday that he and prosecutors are at a stalemate in their negotiations for a plea deal.
As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, defense lawyer Tim Parlatore told Judge Charles Solomon during a hearing that his clients are willing to plea to anything that does not include a felony conviction or jail time. But Assistant District Attorney James Zaleta insisted there will be no offer of a misdemeanor plea deal.
Solomon asked Parlatore, “How’s your relationship with the DA’s office?” The defense attorney replied, “Awful.”
Marko Markovich, James Brady, Andrew Rossig and Kyle Hartwell pleaded not guilty last month to burglary, reckless endangerment and other charges in connection with the Sept. 30 jump.
Authorities say Markovich, Brady and Rossig squeezed through a hole in a fence and climbed 104 flights of stairs before leaping from the tower. A video of the jump was posted on YouTube, and surveillance video captured the jumpers landing in front of the Goldman Sachs building.
Hartwell is accused of keeping lookout at the base of the tower during the stunt. He might be able to strike a misdemeanor plea deal, the prosecutor said Tuesday.
Authorities say the escapade audaciously broke laws specifically prohibiting such jumps. The jumpers have portrayed it as a careful, middle-of-the-night plunge by experienced skydivers over deserted streets.
“We didn’t endanger anyone,” Rossig told reporters last month.
The men have garnered support from two Sept. 11 victims’ relatives, who say the skydivers spotlighted security lapses at the trade center site. The Port Authority insists the skyscraper is well-protected, while acknowledging that daredevils have prompted some security changes.
The jumpers say they walked into the building, which had no door at the time, climbed stairs to the roof and enjoyed “magnificent views” for four hours before the 3 a.m. plunge, encountering no security guards.
There was a time when the city was more accepting of daredevils and their stunts.
When Philippe Petit thrilled the populace by walking a wire between the twin towers in 1974, he was arrested for about a minute before charges were dropped and then invited to City Hall.
George Willig, a true Spider-Man, received similar treatment after climbing one of the World Trade Center towers with suction cups on his hands and feet in 1977.
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