A man accused of kicking and stepping on an infant while allegedly attempting to steal a necklace off an employee’s neck at a Hempstead laundromat denied the charges in court Friday.
Ralphael Brown, 19, pleaded not guilty to robbery, assault, strangulation and child endangerment charges during an arraignment at Nassau First District Court in Hempstead. He was ordered held on $500,000 bail and remained jailed Friday afternoon.
Authorities said Brown walked into the 24 Hour Laundry at 620 Fulton Avenue in Hempstead around noon on Tuesday and asked a 39-year-old employee for quarters. Detectives said the woman was holding a customer’s 18-month-old child at the time and before she could respond to his demand, Brown allegedly shoved the child out of the way and began choking her.
“Please don’t hurt the baby,” the woman is quoted in court papers as saying to Brown.
“I don’t give a [expletive] about the baby!” he answered.
Prosecutors said he then grabbed the woman around the neck and caused her to suffer a “stupor” or “loss of consciousness.” During a brief struggle, he allegedly ripped the employee’s necklace off and “kicked and stepped on the infant, causing the child to sustain injuries to her entire torso,” court papers said.
The employee suffered injuries to her hand and chest, but refused medical attention at the scene. The baby was taken to Nassau University Medical Center. Her condition was not known Friday.
Assistant District Attorney Anna Acquafredda said at the arraignment that the victim was shown a photo array, but was “too hysterical” to identify her attacker. She said that while prosecutors did not have an eyewitness identification, there was “strong evidence” in the case, including video of the attack.
Brown’s attorney, Martha Lineberger, of the Legal Aid Society, told Nassau County District Court Judge Scott Siller that her client “adamantly denies the allegations.” Lineberger said Brown’s mother and sister were in court to support him on Friday. Outside the courtroom, a woman who identified herself as Brown’s mother said: “All I know is it’s a lie.”
Acquafredda said Brown had been released from prison last April after serving a sentence of 1-3 years on a felony robbery charge. A month later, he was arrested in Hempstead after officers responding to a shooting saw Brown run out of a car they were trying to stop. Police later found two men shot and Brown with a loaded handgun, according to a police report. He was charged with weapons possession and resisting arrest.
Brown was also arrested last month on a felony larceny case that involved property being stolen from someone, according to court records. Prosecutors did not immediately provide further details about that case. Records show Brown has pleaded not guilty in both cases, which are still ongoing.
Brown ignored questions from reporters as he was led out of a police booking facility on his way to court Friday morning. He is due back in court on Dec. 23.