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Subway Gunman Case Before New York’s Highest Court

May 29, 1986

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ A prosecutor asked the state’s top court Wednesday to reinstate attempted murder and assault charges against subway gunman Bernhard Goetz, who contends he acted in self-defense when he shot four youths.

The state Court of Appeals will decide in several weeks whether to reinstate the attempted murder and assault charges gainst Goetz, who wounded four teen-agers on Dec. 22, 1984, after one asked him for $5 on a New York City subway.

Goetz, 39 and white, has said he opened fire on the subway because he feared the four black youths were about to rob him. He had been injured in a mugging in 1981.

The teen-agers have said they were panhandling to get money for video games.

″Bernhard Goetz was a very good judge of bad character and as a result of that he had a right to protect himself,″ said one of his lawyers, Barry Slotnick.

″Bernhard Goetz had been mugged before ... and as a result he acted the way he did because he wanted to prevent that from happening again.″

Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Robert Pitler argued that Goetz may have been justified in drawing his pistol to scare away the youths - but not in firing at them.

The middle-level Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court threw out the charges last month.

Goetz still faces less serious charges of illegal possession of weapons.

Update hourly