Irishman Steven O'Brien stands trial this November for the assault of fellow Irishman Danny McGee on Thanksgiving 2018.
A Dublin man living in New York is to go on trial this November 14 faced with charges of assault on a fellow Irishman. Steven O'Brien previously pleaded not guilty to the third-degree assault of Longford man Danny McGee.
McGee, 21, died on Thanksgiving 2018 after being punched outside a pub in Sunnyside, Queens. The cause of his death was determined to be a blunt impact injury to the head.
The 21-year-old from Drumlish in Longford was found unresponsive outside The Gaslight Bar on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018. He was taken to a local hospital but pronounced dead.
O'Brien, a 25-year-old undocumented Irish immigrant also living in Queens, turned himself into police the day after on Black Friday. Prosecutors claim that O'Brien punched McGee once to the side of the head after the two men became engaged in a verbal row but the Dubliner has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
He was freed on $25,000 bail and will now stand trial on November 14.
"We are expecting to go to trial and it should be reinforced that Mr. O'Brien is presumed innocent until proven guilty," O'Brien's attorney Matthew Gartenberg told RTÉ News.
McGee's family has previously voiced their disappointment that O'Brien was only being charged with assault. Speaking to the Irish Voice before his nephew's funeral in December 2018, uncle Tim Murphy acknowledged that O'Brien did not set out to kill McGee but claimed that an assault charge, which would not hold jail time, is not enough.
“He’s been charged with the most minor assault possible. That’s just unbelievable,” Murphy told the Irish Voice.
“I’m not a lawyer but there’s got to be something more that can be done. I want to see the video. I want to see what happened.
“And I want to find out how the charges can be upgraded to something a little more serious. We can’t forget that Danny died as a result of this. We’ve heard that [O’Brien] could plead guilty and get no jail time, only anger management classes. That would just be devastating for us.”
McGee had decided to move to New York in September of 2017 to see what life was like here, his uncle said. He worked as a doorman in Manhattan and rented an apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, but didn’t relish America and decided to return home to Longford next February when the lease on his apartment was up.
“He was done. New York wasn’t for him. He just missed home. He had traveled back to Longford four times for visits. He was going to go back home and go to college,” Murphy said.
“He was just an exceptional person, a total joy. He loved sports, soccer, and Gaelic, and he had his whole life ahead of him. I can’t describe how devastated we are.”