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Arrests in Rocker-Bottle Incident

September 28, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ A man imprisoned in the death of his newborn son pleaded innocent Wednesday to a charge of interfering with police after a friend allegedly threw a bottle at Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker.

Police said the bottle was thrown from the first-base box seats. It landed about 10 feet from Rocker as he warmed up on the mound at Shea Stadium, where the Braves played the Mets on Tuesday night.

When police tried to arrest Raymond Maniaci, of Wyckoff, N.J., his hometown friend Brian Peterson got between them and his friend and refused to step away, police told the Daily News and New York Post.

Peterson, 22, was released on his own recognizance Wednesday after pleading innocent at his arraignment. Peterson served 1 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter _ along with his girlfriend Amy Grossberg _ in the 1996 death of their newborn son at a Delaware motel.

Maniaci, 22, was charged with reckless endangerment, police said. Information on whether Maniaci entered a plea was not immediately available Wednesday.

Peterson told his mother, Barbara Zuchowski, that his arrest Tuesday was a misunderstanding, that he was turning to step away as one officer had instructed, his Delaware lawyer, Joseph Hurley, said after talking to the mother.

``A second cop implies Brian’s physical movement as something that is threatening,″ and arrested Peterson, Hurley said Wednesday.

Peterson is still serving a two-year probation that was part of his sentence for the baby’s death. It was unclear whether the arrest would affect his probation status.

He had permission from New Jersey authorities to leave the state to attend the game, and he had no curfew, said Beth Welch, spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Corrections.

She said a decision would not be made until the department receives a copy of the complaint and a recommendation from Peterson’s parole officer, probably in a day or two. A misdemeanor conviction would not necessarily mean his probation would be revoked, she said.

``Up until now, he hasn’t had the slightest anything go wrong or anything be untoward,″ said Peterson’s attorney, Russell Gioiella, after the arraignment.

Rocker, vilified by New Yorkers after he disparaged them in a magazine article last year, was loudly booed Tuesday night when he sprinted out of the bullpen in the eighth inning.

After the bottle was thrown at Rocker, Braves manager Bobby Cox picked it up and carried it toward the dugout, discarding it before he reached the bench.

``I don’t have anything to say,″ Rocker said after the Braves beat the Mets 7-1 to clinch the National League East championship.


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