08:43 GMT20 October 2020
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    A New York graffiti artist, Jairo Pastoressa, has been held for six years at the notorious Rikers Island prison without trial, after killing a rival tagger in a feud over a woman.

    In October 2010, when Pastoressa was 25, police claim he stabbed Christopher Jusko, 21, in the neck and back with an 8-inch kitchen knife in a stairwell. Jusko was found dead on the sidewalk.

    The next day, Pastoressa turned himself in to police, claiming it was self defense, and was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

    Pastoressa is described by his ex-girlfriend Alice as having a violent streak and being abusive toward her and his pet pit bull dogs.

    Still, Pastoressa has been denied bail, imprisoned for 67 months without due process, and his trial has been repeatedly postponed. He is one of many, as 85% of Rikers’ nearly 10,000 detainees are awaiting trial.

    “This is the story that has now been going on for five years,” his mother Anna Pastoressa, who maintains that her son acted in self defense, told the Villager in February.

    “The prosecutor always says they aren’t ready. He is taking his sweet time, and the judge has allowed it. Jairo had a pretrial hearing in 2012 — that was three years ago. My only thought is, they don’t have a case — why would you wait five-and-a-half years if you have a case?”

    On Friday, the Intercept reported that Pastoressa appears to be the Rikers inmate who has been imprisoned the longest without receiving a trial.

    “If they sentence you, you know they sentenced you to however many years, you get used to the idea, and you do your time,” the accused’s mother told the Intercept. “But when they don’t sentence you and they throw you in there — he’s losing his mind.”

    Pastoressa spent his first few months at the facility on suicide watch, after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. For three months he was detained in a psychiatric center, before being moved back to Rikers three months later.

    His mother alleges that he is now the victim of frequent beatings by other inmates, as well as being sexually assaulted by guards.

    “He wears a sweater, jeans — he doesn’t wear baggy jeans — and shoes, not sneakers. He wears eyeglasses. He looks like a nerd,” she told the Villager. “He gets beaten up because he’s not black and he’s not white. They want him to pick a category — black, white or Hispanic. He’s an interracial child.”

    “My son is not a murderer,” the mother stated. “My son acted in self-defense. He didn’t purposely kill the guy.”


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    Prisoner Abuse, Indefinite Detention, Prison, Rikers, Jairo Pastoressa, Riker's Island, New York
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