Jamill Jones, the assistant basketball coach at Wake Forest University who has been charged in the deadly assault of a Florida tourist, sent condolences to the family of Sandor Szabo, who was punched in the face and later died of his injuries.
‘This was a tragic accident, and Mr. Jones and his family send their deepest condolences and their thoughts and prayers to the Szabo family,’ Alain Massena, Jones’ attorney, said on Thursday.
Jones, an assistant coach for the Demon Deacons, turned himself in to police at the 114th Precinct in Astoria, Queens earlier on Thursday.
Jones was arraigned Thursday night in Queens Criminal Court on a misdemeanor assault charge and released on his own recognizance after entering his plea of not guilty.
He wore a suit and tie in the courthouse and stared downward, expressionless. Jones stood alongside his attorney, Massena, who did most of the talking.
The coach’s next court appearance is scheduled for October 2, according to a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney.
He has been charged with assault, though investigators say the charge could be upgraded depending on the results of an autopsy.
The assault occurred while Szabo was on his way back to his hotel after his stepsister’s wedding celebration on Saturday.
Szabo, 35, was said to be drunk and banging on cars in Long Island City when he came upon Jones’ vehicle on Sunday.
The coach got out, followed Szabo to the sidewalk, hit him and sped off, police said.
Szabo then fell and hit his head on the pavement. He was rushed to hospital, but never regained consciousness and was taken off life support Tuesday.
Jones allegedly drove off in his white SUV after the assault.
Sandor’s brother, Dominic Szabo, 33, told the NY Daily News that Sandor’s attempts to avoid the punch by backing away actually added to the force involved when he hit his head on the sidewalk.
Dominic said that it was the impact with the pavement that resulted in Sandor’s brain injury.
Dominic noted that prior to the incident occurring, Sandor’s phone battery had died.
Dominic speculated that his brother had likely been attempting to hail a ride back to his hotel and ‘probably just tapped on the wrong guy’s car’ that night’.
The NYPD released footage of the car and the man.
Dominic described Sandor as being ‘the nicest guy you’d ever meet,’ who was also ready to help out a stranger or anybody else.
Prior to attending his stepsister’s wedding, Dominic, who works in digital advertising, had been in New York City for a trade show.
Jones is entering his second season as assistant coach for Wake Forest, a university whose campus is in Winstom-Salem, North Carolina.
Head coach Danny Manning said at the time that Jones was hired last year that he was a ‘well-respected bright mind’ in the coaching world and brought ‘new blood’ and ‘new perspectives’ to Wake Forest.
Wake Forest’s Division I men’s basketball team plays in the Atlantic Coast Conference, one of the NCAA’s premier divisions which features powerhouse programs like Duke, North Carolina, and Clemson.
An assistant basketball coach at Wake Forest earns an average annual salary of $53,456, according to Paysa.
Before being hired as an assistant at Wake Forest, Jones worked for the University of Central Florida, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Florida Gulf Coast.
Jones, a Philadelphia native, completed his undergraduate studies at Arkansas Tech in 2008.
He has a son, Jayden, and a daughter, Juliana.
Jones lives in Kernersville, North Carolina, just a few miles east of Winston-Salem.
He has deleted his Twitter account as of Thursday evening.
SOURCE: Daily Mail