Morgan Stanley banker accused of stabbing cabby waives jury trial

Tue May 1, 2012 2:17pm EDT

1 of 2. Morgan Stanley investment banker William Bryan Jennings (C) and his attorney, Eugene Riccio (R), attend a hearing at State Superior Court in Stamford, Connecticut March 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Lindsay Niegelberg/Pool

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(Reuters) - The Morgan Stanley investment banker accused of stabbing a New York City cab driver in a late-night dispute over a cab fare on Tuesday waived his right to a jury trial, his attorney said.

In a brief pre-trial hearing in Stamford, Connecticut, Superior Court, William Bryan Jennings asked for a bench trial to be heard solely by a judge.

"This allows us to have the matter tried sooner than if we would have waited to have a trial by a jury, so this was a matter of expediency," said Eugene Riccio, Jennings' attorney.

Jennings pleaded not guilty in March to charges of intimidation as a hate crime, theft and assault. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 11 years in prison.

Hassan Ahmad, the attorney for the cab driver, Mohamed Ammar, said: "We are not saying anything about an ongoing case." Ahmad has said previously that Ammar may file a civil case against Jennings.

The charges against Jennings stem from a taxi ride from New York City to Connecticut after a Morgan Stanley holiday party last December at which he had been drinking.

Authorities have said that Ammar, an Egyptian-born U.S. citizen, had agreed with Jennings on a fare of $204 before leaving Manhattan for Jenning's home in the wealthy town of Darien, Connecticut, about 40 miles away.

When he pulled into the driveway of Jennings' $2.7 million mansion about an hour later, a fight broke out inside the cab.

Darien Police said Jennings threatened Ammar and used racial slurs. They said he then took a pen knife from his briefcase and stabbed Ammar in the hand. The wound required six stitches.

Jennings was arrested on February 29 and placed on leave from his job as co-head of U.S. bond underwriting.

The judge said he would set a trial date at a May 25 hearing, at which a pending motion to dismiss the charges may also be discussed, Riccio said.

(Reporting by Michelle Conlin; Editing by Dan Burns and Vicki Allen)

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