A gay student is currently on trial for stabbing his classmate in self-defense.
Abel Cedeno, 18, had second-degree murder charges reduced to manslaughter by a New York grand jury, reports Gay City News.
Fifteen-year-old Matthew McCree, Cedeno's reported aggressor, died from wounds suffered in the fight in front of a classroom of 25 students and two teachers at Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation.
Cedeno’s bail is set at $500,000 and his attorneys are currently weighing the value of a potential plea deal for their client.
Attorney Christopher R. Lynn, however, deemed the price of bail an "outrageous" markup of the standard sticker price for a class B felony. Alternately, Robert J. Feldman, Lynn's co-council, is reported to have declared the reduction of his client's charges "a huge victory" that "opens the way for a plea deal."
At the Bronx County Hall of Justice, a mass of supporters and opponents alike gathered — mostly family members and friends of Cedeno and the deceased McCree. Cedeno, who was expected to appear in front of the judge during the grand jury session, was ultimately excused from the event.
Dueling protests by friends of Bronx teen killed at school and alleged killer Abel Cedeno. lawyers say he killed MattMcCree in self defense pic.twitter.com/mvwY7ODJnV— Marla Diamond (@MDiamond8) October 17, 2017
Cendo claims to have acted reflexively from fear and has said that he brandished the knife in the first place to ward off his aggressor, an encroaching McCree whom he perceived as a threat. Cedeno's supporters maintain of the bullying that it not incidental, that it had become progressively harsh over time.
According to Lynn there exists a chance that because Cedeno did react with a weapon, despite reflexively, the district attorney may seek in any case to elevate the newly reduced charges to attempted murder.
After a grand jury session at which Ava Talley of the New York Transgender Advocacy Group was present, she characterized the courtroom dynamic as abrasive. She explained how McCree's family members cast aspersions upon Talley to a scheme of "batty boy" and "faggot" while issuing threats to "beat your ass, you he-she."
"His family keeps saying [McCree] was not a bully, but they use homophobic and transphobic rhetoric," she noted to The Gay City News. "His whole group of supporters was doing it."
Cedeno's attorneys — both of whom happen to be gay — defended their client has having ultimately "snapped" under mounting "emotional distress," and of his mental framework said that he was at the time "not in his right mind" as a result of the ongoing bullying and in the event of the fight.
Louna Dennis, in mourning of her son McCree, seeks vindication:
"I have confidence in the grand jury that I will get justice for my son. My son was never a bully, never had words [with Cedeno]," she said. "Why was an 18-year-old adult in school with my 15-year-old minor son?"
Vanessa Cedeno, the defendant's sister, shared her own sentiments on the matter, and in a statement to the press said:
"We're getting threats now. We just want justice for Abel. No one wanted for this to happen. He was bullied from the sixth grade and would come home with bruises. The schools failed him. My brother should not be in jail. We shouldn't have to be afraid to be ourselves, especially in school."