NEW YORK (NewsNation) — The New York bodega worker jailed for nearly a week while facing a murder charge over a stabbing that his attorney says was self-defense was freed after his bail was reduced.
Jose Alba is a 61-year-old married father of three who has worked 12-hour days at a bodega in Upper Manhattan for decades. He declined to speak with reporters as he returned home late Thursday after posting bail. A judge had previously set bail at $250,000, but the sum was reduced Thursday to $50,000 amid public outcry surrounding the case.
Alba hopes the store surveillance video will clear his name. The video shows him standing behind the store counter on July 1 when a woman and her 10-year-old daughter came in around 11 p.m. and tried to purchase snacks, according to a criminal complaint.
When the woman’s electronic benefits card was denied, she and Alba allegedly got into an argument.
The woman told police that Alba reached over the counter and snatched the snacks away from her daughter after the transaction failed to process. She then “left the store and informed her boyfriend, Austin Simon, of the clerk’s actions,” according to the complaint.
Simon, 37, confronted Alba behind the counter, police said, pushing him during the argument. In the video, Simon can be seen shoving Alba into a chair, then standing over him and apparently shouting.
When Simon then “attempted to steer [Alba] out of the area behind the counter,” Alba allegedly picked up a knife and stabbed Simon multiple times in the neck and chest, according to the complaint.
When Simon’s girlfriend then attempted to intervene, Alba allegedly continued to stab Simon until the woman pulled out her own knife. According to police, Alba admitted to taking the knife and stabbing Simon.
Alba’s defense attorney from the Neighborhood Defender Service has said that the video evidence “speaks for itself.”
“Mr. Alba was simply doing his job when he was aggressively cornered by a much younger and bigger man,” the organization said in a statement.
Francisco Marte, president of the Bodega and Small Business Group, described Alba as “distraught with everything that happened” over the stabbing that he said Alba “didn’t provoke.”
Mayor Eric Adams is among those who have spoken out in defense of Alba, who has no prior criminal history.
“I am hoping that we take all of that into consideration, as this hard-working New Yorker was doing his job and someone aggressively went behind the counter to attack him,” Adams said Thursday at an unrelated press conference. “I support hard-working, innocent people that are doing their job. And I saw him as a hard-working, innocent New Yorker that a person went behind the counter and attacked him.”
Alba, who’s lived in New York City for 35 years since emigrating from the Dominican Republic, is set to return to court on July 20, his lawyers said. As conditions of his release, he must wear an ankle monitor and surrender his passport.
NewsNation affiliate WPIX contributed to this report.