Conductor Shows Mercy as Assailant Reveals Cancer Diagnosis

FRIDAY, JUNE 7 -- The man who stabbed a subway conductor on Easter Sunday was released from custody on Friday after prosecutors told a judge he was deathly ill from an aggressive form of cancer. Under a negotiated agreement between prosecutors and Legal Aid Society defense lawyers, Walter Rivera pled guilty to felony assault - but was released from custody so he can receive cancer treatment at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. Under the agreement, which was approved by Bronx Supreme Court Justice George Villegas, Rivera must receive regular mental health treatment and stay out of trouble –  or face a return to jail. Villegas also banned Rivera from taking mass transit except as a last resort to get to his mental health treatment and medical appointments. He must first try the MTA’s door-to-door Access-A-Ride program, the judge said.

Denaul Jenkins, the conductor Rivera stabbed in the shoulder and side at the 149thSt./Grand Concourse station, said he had mixed feelings about the plea agreement. Jenkins said he doesn’t fully accept the deal but he also can’t ignore the fact that Rivera, according to prosecutors, is dying. “It’s a very tough call,” he said. “It’s very difficult to accept. I just hope he gets the mental health treatment he needs.”
Nearly three dozen TWU Local 100 officers and members came to court to support Jenkins, including RTO Vice President Eric Loegel.

“This is an honorable man,” Loegel told reporters from the New York Daily News, the New York Post, News12 the Bronx and other television stations. “Brother Jenkins is much more merciful than a lot of us would be.” Assistant District Attorney Daniel P. Defillippi said Rivera had no criminal history before the attack but had a mental breakdown because of his worsening illness. Rivera was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia last year, Defillippi said. He underwent chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and a stem cell transplant.

The cancer, however, returned earlier this year and Rivera had an “acute mental break,” Defillippi said. He approached Jenkins as the conductor waited for his train at the station. He cursed at Jenkins, started a fight and then stabbed him twice in the shoulder and twice in the back, authorities said. Jenkins managed to hold Rivera for police so they could make an arrest at the scene. Prosecutors intentionally kept a transit ban out of the plea deal but reluctantly agreed to include it just prior to the court hearing after TWU Local 100 insisted it be included.