Batavia teen pleads not guilty to assault and weapon possession
This story is based on audio provided at the courthouse by WBTA's Alex Feig.
Batavia High School student Antwan Odom appeared in Genesee County Court this morning for his arraignment on an indictment filed by the Grand Jury stemming from a summertime fight with his classmate and neighbor, Ray Leach.
Odom's attorney Frank Housh waived a reading of the indictment and entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of his client on charges of attempted assault, 1st, a Class C felony, and criminal possession of a weapon, 4th, a Class A misdemeanor.
Odom, 18, allegedly cut Leach during an Aug. 4 altercation on Ross Street.
District Attorney Lawrence Friedman indicated the prosecution was ready for trial and motion hearings were scheduled.
Judge Charles Zambito continued bail at $15,000 cash / $30,000 bond without objection.
A temporary order of protection barring Odom from contact with Leach was also continued, however the defense contested that the order should be altered as he claimed it was being used by Batavia High School to prevent Odom from attending.
Housh claims his client’s education is suffering due to practices of BHS and the Batavia City School District, which has in essence expelled Odom, who he says is "falling far behind" in his studies despite being assigned a tutor and attending BOCES.
"He's not getting a good education," Housh said. "And this is happening only because the (school) district has made the determination to protect Ray Leach and punish my client."
Speaking with reporters after today's court proceedings, the defense attorney said he received a letter on behalf of his client from the district explaining that because of the serious nature of the charges, Odom could no longer attend BHS. Leach continues his studies at the high school unabated.
A reply letter pointed out that certain hearings, such as a superintendent's hearing, have to be held before an expulsion can be ordered, with Housh citing #3214 of the NYS Education Law.
Subsequently, Housh received another letter from the school district's attorney, which changed the justification of Odom's ouster to the fact that an order of protection is in place.
"It is extraordinarily rare for a school district to say because there is a stay away order, you can no longer be educated, you have to be expelled," Housh said, noting that he has practiced law 25 years and handled lots of students' cases in many districts.
"What almost always happens is the court makes a determination that the two of them have to stay away from each other at school, so both of them (can get) an education. ... They don't take one student and deny them an education."
The fact that a tutor has been assigned to Odom and he can attend BOCES is not the same as being able to attend the school he has gone to for the last three years; there's no parity, according to Housh.
Judge Zambito said he would consider Housh's argument if it is put in writing, which Housh will do when he files motions in the case. The next court appearance for Odom is sometime in March.
Hey Housh,,, would it be better if he got shot instead????