Students and administrators close to former Wharton student Christopher Clemente expressed sadness and shock last week over the guilty verdict entered against him Wednesday. Clemente and co-defendant Leah Bundy were found guilty on nine counts of drug and weapons charges last week in New York. They now face sentences of 25 years to life in prison. Clemente's attorneys plan to appeal the decision. Several of Clemente's friends and associates, including the steering committee of the Black Student League, said they were surprised by the verdict, especially by the fact that he was found guilty on every charge. Van Pelt College House Graduate Fellow Andrew Miller, who lived in the building with Clemente for three years and who testified on his behalf at his trial, said last week he was "amazed" by the guilty verdict. "I was just really, really shocked," said Miller. Vice Provost for University Life Kim Morrisson, who suspended Clemente weeks after his arrest in a Harlem apartment, said last week she was "saddened" by the verdict. Morrisson's decision to suspend Clemente last year sparked several student protests. Judicial Inquiry Officer Constance Goodman later reached an agreement with Clemente's attorneys to list the student's absence as a voluntary "leave of absence." "My heart goes out to his family," said Morrisson. Harold Ford, who is the managing editor of the University's black student newspaper The Vision and a friend of Clemente, said that he had been confident Clemente would be found innocent. "I was terribly, terribly disturbed," Ford said. "His defense was very strong." Ford also thought that the evidence in the trial seemed "shaky," adding that he was "curious to know why the judge wouldn't let Clemente's academic record be admitted to evidence." Miller also questioned the jury's verdict, saying "there's just no proof." "[The evidence] was merely circumstantial. . . I don't see how a jury could have convicted him," Miller said. "It's just crazy what he has gone through, when there is no evidence to connect him to [the crimes]." In addition, the ten members of the BSL steering committee showed their support for Clemente, a former member, in a written statement released yesterday. "The BSL would like to continue its support of Christopher Clemente and his family despite the decision of the court," the statement said. "We strongly feel that the circumstances and evidence upon which he was convicted were not concrete, and that his conviction cannot be upheld without a questionable doubt."Comments powered by Disqus
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