Miya Ponsetto pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to hate crime charges after she allegedly attacked a black teen at a Manhattan hotel — as the judge warned the California native not to skip her next in-person court date in the Big Apple.
The 22-year-old was caught on video accusing Keyon Harrold Jr., 15 — the son of jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold — of swiping her cell phone and then trying to tackle him in the lobby of the Arlo Soho Hotel on Dec. 26.
Ponsetto was indicted by a grand jury on charges of unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment, and endangering the welfare.
Ponsetto’s lawyer Paul D’Emilia entered a plea of "not guilty" on her behalf during a video arraignment in Manhattan Supreme Court Wednesday.
Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Sarah Marquez noted that the case isn’t eligible to set bail but asked that the judge continue the "highest level of supervised release" for Ponsetto.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Laura Ward set Ponsetto’s next court date for Oct. 20, while warning that Ponsetto would likely have to appear in person in the future — a change from the coronavirus pandemic court procedures.
"Although I did not set monetary bail, if you are not in court on dates that I or other judges tell you to be — even though you did not post bail — you would face bail jumping charges," Ward said.
Ward asked if Ponsetto understood prompting her to respond, "Yes,"
D’Emilia blasted the indictment as "opportunistic" for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance following the arraignment.
"Instead of helping to foster a civil and enlightened resolution to an unfortunate incident between two young people, DA Vance chose a craven and opportunistic path in indicting, with felony hate crime charges, Ms. Miya Ponsetto," D’Emilia said in the statement.
"The charges alleged are a brazen and clear overreach of the intent of the statute. In sum, they are absurd, and a perversion of our legal system.
"As truly violent criminals maraud and run rampant through New York City, this DA exhibits zero interest in law enforcement and prosecution," D’Emilia continued.
"Instead, he turns his prosecutorial fury on a distraught and panicked young woman stranded without her lifeline, her phone, thousands of miles from home."
The DA’s office declined to comment on D’Emilia’s damning allegations, saying it would "rely on what was stated in court."
Ponsetto has also been sued by the Harrold family over the incident. That case is still pending.