Daniel Penny's Legal Defense Fund Balloons After Former Marine Is Charged, Over 10K People Chip In
A legal defense fund was set up to benefit Marine Corps veteran Daniel Penny, who faces a manslaughter charge in the recent death of Jordan Neely on a New York subway — and it had taken in nearly a half-million dollars by Friday afternoon.
Penny, a 24-year-old college student, was arraigned in New York on Friday morning on a charge of second-degree manslaughter. The charge came after protests in the city calling for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to prosecute him in connection with the mentally disturbed Neely’s death.
The New York Post reported that Penny placed Neely in a chokehold after the 30-year-old homeless man was verbally threatening passengers on a subway train on the afternoon of May 1.
“He said, ‘I don’t care. I’ll take a bullet, I’ll go to jail’ because he would kill people on the train,” a woman who witnessed the incident told the Post. “He said, ‘I would kill a motherf***er. I don’t care. I’ll take a bullet. I’ll go to jail.'”
The 66-year-old woman recounted that Penny — a New York native who served in the Marines from 2017 to 2021 — initially did not engage Neely during his aggressive rant but eventually stepped in.
“This gentleman, Mr. Penny, did not stand up,” the rider said. “Did not engage with the gentleman. He said not a word. It was all Mr. Neely that was … threatening the passengers. If he did not get what he wants.”
Video of the incident shared on social media showed Penny with his arm around Neely while two other riders assisted in subduing the man.
The other two men have not been charged, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
Penny was released from custody Friday after posting $100,000 bail.
Bail bondsman Ira Judelson told the Daily Mail that Penny was “very quiet and nervous” and was “respectful” as he was arrested and arraigned.
Judelson said under the terms of the bond, Penny’s parents put up $10,000 in cash and guaranteed the other $90,000 if he were to flee.
The Marine Corps veteran is not a flight risk, Judelson said.
Last week, Penny said in a statement through his lawyers that he “never intended to harm” Neely.
“Mr. Neely had a documented history of violence and erratic behavior, the apparent result of ongoing and untreated mental illness,” attorneys Steven Raiser and Thomas Kenniff wrote.
“When Mr. Neely began aggressively threatening Daniel Penny and other passengers, Daniel, with the help of others, acted to protect themselves, until help arrived. Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death,” the statement said.
Neely has been arrested more than 40 times and has a history of mental illness, according to the Post.
The Associated Press reported the prosecutors will have to prove that Penny’s conduct on the train was “a gross deviation from how a reasonable person would act in a similar situation.”
He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on the manslaughter charge.
IN CUSTODY: 11 days after the death of #JordanNeely, Former Marine #DanielPenny is in police custody. He’s charged with 2nd degree manslaughter. Max time behind bars if convicted? 15 years #nbc4ny #NYC pic.twitter.com/Kq5FOV2EJE
— Tracie Strahan (@tstrahan4NY) May 12, 2023
Raiser and Kenniff’s law firm set up a legal defense fund to help in Penny’s defense.
“Funds are being raised to pay Mr. Penny’s legal fees incurred from any criminal charges filed and any future civil lawsuits that may arise, as well as expenses related to his defense,” the GiveSendGo page reads.
“All contributions are greatly appreciated. Any proceeds collected which exceed those necessary to cover Mr. Penny’s legal defense will be donated to a mental health advocacy program in New York City.”
As of Friday afternoon, more than $466,000 had been raised with nearly 10,400 people making donations.
Many left words of encouragement along with their contributions on the site, writing that they’re praying for Penny and that he did the right thing by seeking to protect himself and others.
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