In February 2019, 35-year-old Irigoyen was entering her apartment building in the Queens borough early in the morning when an assailant grabbed her from behind, dragged her through the vestibule and stabbed her multiple times in the face, neck and stomach.
A broker at New York’s Crosstown Apartments and a mother of a teenage boy, Irigoyen would sell apartments in Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Upper West Side and home borough of Queens. At the time of the attack, she was pregnant and could be heard screaming “he’s got a knife! He’s going to kill the baby!” by witnesses and on security footage. An ambulance brought Irigoyen to the nearby Wyckoff Hospital but doctors could not save her life and she passed away the same morning.
Not long after, Irigoyen’s boyfriend Anthony Hobson turned himself in to the police and was charged with murder, tampering with physical evidence, abortion and criminal possession of a weapon. Charges related to the unborn baby were reportedly later dropped since New York’s enactment of the 2019 Reproductive Health Act removed fetal homicide from the state penal code.
The case stayed largely out of the news for the next two years but Irigoyen’s mother, Beverly Figueroa, started a “Justice For Jenny” Change.org petition to draw attention to the fact that the case has been adjourned repeatedly amid pandemic-related court closures and other obstacles.
“There were around 20 court dates dating back to 2019 and the case is still in the same place as it was when my daughter and the baby were killed,” Figueroa told Inman. “There’s been no progress and it’s just adjournment after adjournment. We are asking them to grant us the trial. What is the purpose of all these adjournments?”
According to Figueroa, one of the court dates had been set for January 29, 2020, but extended to March 4 for the defense to provide “reciprocal documentation.” By that time, COVID-19 had spread across the United States and the entire New York City court system had shut down temporarily. April 2, May 7 and June 12 sessions were adjourned due to both the defense’s requests for time to prepare documents and COVID-19 complications.
Sessions on July 20, September 14, October 20 and February 4, 2021 took place virtually without Irigoyen’s family being able to watch or attend. The family still does not know what took place during those sessions but was able to attend an April 20 virtual hearing that was also adjourned. The next court date has been set for May 18 but, when they check the NYC Department of Correction’s website, Figueroa and the rest of Irigoyen’s family see that date listed as December 22, 2022.
“When I asked why, I was told to just disregard that because ‘the system is always wrong,'” Figueroa wrote in the Change.org petition. “That’s a terrible thing to say to a victim’s mother, a mother who lost her daughter and unborn grandchild. You’re saying to me that the victims and their families don’t matter. Don’t pay attention to those dates. Well, which dates should we pay attention to then?”
The NYC Department of Correction redirected Inman’s questions to the Office of Court Administration. The Office of Court Administration, in turn, said that questions about “why their next court date is incorrect” would have to be answered by the NYC Department of Correction. An OCA spokesperson told Inman that the “defense attorney had indicated at some point, possibly before the previous judge, that he may like to pursue an unspecified psychiatric defense and he needs to have his client evaluated by a doctor before he makes that decision.”
“On the most recent court date, last Tuesday, April 20, 2021, the defense counsel indicated that his client had been partially evaluated by a psychiatrist but not completely evaluated, and that before the exam can be completed counsel feels that he needs to meet with the defendant face to face, which he has not been able to do at Rikers Island,” the spokesperson said in an email. “Defense counsel indicated that a video conference meeting would not be sufficient. As a result, on the last court date, the case was adjourned to May 18, 2021 for an in-person appearance so that counsel and the defendant can have a face to face meeting, in the hopes of being able to move the case forward from there.”
As Figueroa described in both the petition and to Inman, it has been extremely frustrating and demoralizing to see her daughter’s case pushed back again and again with no clear explanation as to why. She has sent petitions and letters to Judge Deborah Stevens Modica, who had initially been assigned to the case, and Judge Michael Aloise, who has been reassigned to it, as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo without a response.
“I am horrified and I am hurt,” Figueroa said. “There is no way to explain that kind of pain.”
The “Justice For Jenny” petition, in which they ask Judge Aloise to proceed with the case rather than keep granting extensions to the defense, has gathered nearly 6,500 signatures by April 23. Figueroa has been using it to post updates on the situation while friends and members of their community have been posting condolences and calls to see the case settled.
“Domestic Violence is very real and to know a beautiful woman and an unborn child were brutally beaten and both lost their lives is disgraceful,” Dana Zopoluch wrote in the comments to the petition.