HAMILTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (PIX11) — The Manhattan bodega worker jailed for nearly a week while facing a murder charge over a stabbing that he says was self-defense has been freed after his bail was reduced.
Jose Alba declined to speak with reporters as he returned home late Thursday after posting bail. A judge had previously set bail at $250,000, but the sum was reduced Thursday to $50,000 amid public outcry surrounding the case.
Francisco Marte, president of the Bodega and Small Business Group, described Alba as “distraught with everything that happened” over the stabbing that he said Alba “didn’t provoke.”
Alba, 51, was working at the bodega on Broadway near West 139th Street on July 1 when a woman and her 10-year-old daughter came in around 11 p.m. and tried to purchase snacks, according to a criminal complaint. When the woman’s electronic benefits card was denied, she and Alba allegedly got into an argument.
The woman told police that Alba reached over the counter and snatched the snacks away from her daughter after the transaction failed to process. She then “left the store and informed her boyfriend, Austin Simon, of the clerk’s actions,” according to the complaint.
Simon, 37, confronted Alba behind the counter, police said, pushing him during the argument. In surveillance video obtained by PIX11 News, Simon can be seen shoving Alba into a chair, then standing over him and apparently shouting.
When Simon then “attempted to steer [Alba] out of the area behind the counter,” Alba allegedly picked up a knife and stabbed Simon multiple times in the neck and chest, according to the complaint.
When Simon’s girlfriend then attempted to intervene, Alba allegedly continued to stab Simon until the woman pulled out her own knife. According to police, Alba admitted to taking the knife and stabbing Simon.
Alba’s defense attorney from the Neighborhood Defender Service has said that the video evidence “speaks for itself.”
“Mr. Alba was simply doing his job when he was aggressively cornered by a much younger and bigger man,” the organization said in a statement.
Alba, who’s lived in New York City for 35 years since emigrating from the Dominican Republic, is set to return to court July 20, his lawyers said. As conditions of his release, he must wear an ankle monitor and surrender his passport.
Mayor Eric Adams was among those who have spoken out in defense of Alba, who has no prior criminal history.
“I am hoping that we take all of that into consideration, as this hard-working New Yorker was doing his job and someone aggressively went behind the counter to attack him,” Adams said Thursday at an unrelated press conference. “I support hard-working, innocent people that are doing their job. And I saw him as a hard-working, innocent New Yorker that a person went behind the counter and attacked him.”