NYC man arrested for assaulting toddler freed despite previous violent attack on a 9-year-old girl

After allegedly punching a child in the forehead in an unprovoked attack, vicious repeat offender Christopher Elder was set free to do it again on the streets of New York City.

On the morning of March 11, an unhinged Christopher Elder, 31, began screaming at Maria Zamora, 48, as she took out her garbage in Flushing, the New York Post reported. He then turned to Zamora’s granddaughter, 3-year-old Sophia, who was riding in a wagon. Elder allegedly grabbed the wagon and shook it, before kicking it into the street.

According to the complaint, Sophia suffered a cut to her head after she hit the ground and required five stitches. Here’s more from CBS New York:

Sophia told her uncle, Gabriel Zamora, “Someone hit me. Someone kicked me.”

“Now she’s very scared,” Zamora told The Post. “She didn’t want to come yesterday.”

And, as stated, this isn’t the first time Elder has done this sort of thing, The Post reports.

In December, for no discernable reason, Elder attacked three people, including a nine-year-old girl who was walking with her mother down Kissena Boulevard on the afternoon of Dec. 11.

The young girl’s mother, Raquel Esquivel, told The Post that Elder was yelling at them and then came for them brandishing a glass bottle.

“That’s when he launched … and he just began to hit me,” Esquivel said. “He punched me in my face, my back. He hit my daughter on her face as well, on the forehead.”

“We just dropped to the floor,” Esquivel continued. “I don’t know at what point we fell, I don’t know if I lost consciousness, be we fell and he just continued to hit us.”

Following the brutal assault, the office of Queens District Attorney Melina Katz told the shaken mother that Elder was “gonna walk” according to Esquivel.

“I said, ‘Are you kidding me?'” Esquivel stated. “They said, ‘No.'”

After attacking Esquivel and her daughter, police say, Elder then punched a 66-year-old man.

For the savage beatings, Elder was charged only with misdemeanors and harassment violations and set free.

“That’s not right,” said Sophia’s grandma, Maria Zamora. “People need to be protected. There’s no protection if that’s what’s happening.”

According to Katz’s office, Elder’s misdemeanor counts meant he was not eligible for bail, which meant he had to be released.

It’s another horrifying consequence of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2019 Bail Reform Law, which mandated release for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, reserving bail only for “more serious cases,”  such as domestic violence and violent felonies.

Currently, Gov. Kathy Hochul hopes to give judges more discretion when it comes to setting bail, through a series of proposed modifications to the law.

“For offenses that are not currently subject to arrest, police will have the ability (though not the requirement) to deny a desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) and arrest an individual who has previously received a DAT within eighteen months,” Hochul stated in a memo. “All second offenses within a certain period of time will be bail-eligible.”

“The statute will set forth specific criteria on which judges will base their determinations, including criminal history and history of firearm use/possession,” the memo reads.

According to police, Elder has been arrested eight times, and a relative has said he has a history of psychiatric problems.

Despite his record, the DA’s office still only sought supervised release.

 

 

The New York City Criminal Justice Agency, a city-contracted non-profit, was to provide monitoring, which, according to the organizations website, means weekly or monthly “check ins.” Under a supervised release, Elder should have been referred to mental health services, but according to The Post, there’s nothing in the public records to indicate he received so much as a psychiatric evaluation.

Aubrey Fox, director of the non-profit, has reportedly referred questions about Elder’s case to City Hall.

“In a case like this especially, you sought the highest possible charges,” said former Queens prosecutor Eugene O’Donnell of the way things used to be. “You bent over backwards, you stretched the law as far as it could be stretched to hold the person accountable who did this.”

Now, O’Donnell said, prosecutors are more concerned with empathizing with the accused.

“This is a system now that is literally focused exclusively on the wellbeing of the offender,” O’Donnell said. “That’s the impulse of the prosecutor now, which is extremely twisted an perverse.”

“In light of the pattern of victimization of a vulnerable population, we are still investigating and exploring charging decisions in these cases,” said a spokesperson for Katz.

Following Elder’s arrest on March 11, the Queen’s DA at last asked that bail be set.

Judge Stephen Antignani complied, ordering a $10,000 cash bail and a psych evaluation before sending Elder to Rikers Island.

“He needs to be put somewhere where they watch him every day and make sure he takes his medicine,” said Elder’s grandfather, James. “He definitely needs help.”

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