By Sonja Sharp and Andrea Swalec
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A grand jury that cleared a Greenwich Village McDonald's cook of beating two women who jumped the counter to attack him voted Thursday to indict the women in the incident, which was caught on a shocking cell phone video.
Denise Darbeau and Rachel Edwards, both 24, were initially charged with misdemeanor trespass in the Oct. 13 incident at the West 3rd Street McDonald's, but the charges were later increased to burglary, a felony, which in this case meant that they allegedly entered the fast food restaurant with intent to commit a crime, their lawyer said.
Staff cook Rayon McIntosh, 31, had been charged with felony assault, but the charges against him were dropped Dec. 2 after the grand jury said they believed he acted in self-defense. The incident, first reported by DNAinfo, was caught on cellphone video that went viral.
Darbeau and Edwards stood stone faced as the Assistant District Attorney Jaime Mendoza announced the grand jury's vote. Darbeau suffered a fractured skull during the incident, and had to have 20 staples in her head, her family said. Edwards' arm was also injured in the incident.
"The people are filing for certification of grand jury action," Mendoza said in court on Thursday.
Defense attorney Harold Baker, who represents both women, called the indictment "ridiculous."
"Certainly, I don't believe they'll be convicted of that," Baker said. "The DA won't be able to prove intent of a burglary. Their actions don't rise to the level of a burglary."
Baker, who penned a letter to prosecutors asking them not to bring the women's case before a grand jury in light of McIntosh's charges being dropped by that same grand jury, said his clients have received "harassing" phone calls since the incident.
The women were allowed to remain free without bail pending the grand jury indictment arraignment Jan. 11.
Darbeau, Edwards and McIntosh all have criminal histories. Darbeau was charged last year with stealing $350 while she worked the cash register at a Harlem H&M. Edwards currently faces misdemeanor harassment and aggravated harassment charges in Brooklyn for allegedly making multiple offensive calls and sending text messages to her first cousin, according to sources and court records obtained by DNAinfo.
McIntosh served 11 years in prison for accidentally killing a friend during a confrontation with another group of young men.
His former boss at McDonald's released a statement Thursday, saying he and his employees "are happy for Rayon and that he was released and cleared of all charges."
"I am confident that the New York criminal justice system will work to ensure that those who have committed a crime will be
dealt with appropriately," McDonald's franchise owner Carmen Paulino said in a statement.