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This just in from the Times Union in Albany, New York:
My question: Why is that dude's head so big?
A town justice, citing a series of what she said were prosecutorial missteps by the Albany County district attorney's office, has thrown out assault charges against a professional fighter who was charged with beating a Times Union reporter 17 months ago.
That "reporter" they're talking about? Yeah, that's Steve Barnes, the restaurant critic for the Albany Times Union. And the "professional fighter?" Mixed martial artist Gerald H. Spiegel, an 11-24-1 pro MMA fighter for Extreme Fighting International.
What happened was this: Barnes and a friend of his were just leaving Creo Restaurant in Stuyvesant Plaza. For some reason, Barnes had announced earlier on his blog that he was going to be eating at Creo that night. And as soon as they left? Boom--they get jumped by two guys in the parking lot who start throwing punches without saying a word.
Barnes described the attack in great detail on his blog. But what makes this more interesting is that, because of the circumstances (that Barnes had announced where he was going to be that night and that Spiegel and his accomplice had attacked Barnes and his friend without saying a word), Albany police investigated this attack as a premeditated assault, and were looking into any connection Spiegel might've had with another Albany restaurant, Envy, which Barnes had recently given a bad review to.
Barnes, the critic, post-ass-kicking
Of course, none of that really matters now since, apparently, it's perfectly okay to attack a reporter in the city of Albany. Despite the fact that Barnes had identified Spiegel (and the second attacker, who was never identified by police) in a photo lineup, Spiegel walked away a free man after the case was thrown out by Guilderland Town Justice Denise M. Randall. The reason for this? According to the Times Union, "Randall said the criminal information filed in court against Spiegel was legally insufficient because it was signed by a police investigator who was not a witness to the crime. The district attorney's office had argued in motions that Barnes signed a photo identification sheet indicating Spiegel as his assailant. The judge ruled that the signature was not enough and that Barnes should have signed a "sworn" statement."
Also, the judge was upset because Spiegel's right to a speedy trial had been violated--thanks to the prosecutor who managed to miss four court dates and a filing deadline.
The District Attorney's office has said it will appeal the decision, but for right now? I'm just glad I'm not doing this job in Albany.