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Suspect accused of attacking man with Huntington's Disease back in court

Posted at 5:51 PM, Aug 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-09 15:51:36-04

Prosecutors are building their case against 24-year-old Avery Hunter who is accused of attacking another man with disabilities.

Hunter is charged with felony assault after police said he punched 59-year-old Michael Zuch who suffers from Huntington's Disease.

Zuch was out for a walk, according to investigators. The attack happened Sunday in the City of Tonawanda.

Zuch suffered a broken jaw, fractured skull, and brain bleeding. He remains hospitalized.

He was supposed to testify about the attack Tuesday during Hunter's felony hearing. But, a judge granted the Prosecution's request to postpone the hearing until Zuch was well enough to testify.

Hunter's attorney, Domonic Saraceno requested his charge be downgraded to a misdemeanor. "There was one punch thrown. That's what an independent witness states. Case law in NY is clear, one punch can't substantiate intent to cause serious physical injury," he said. "According to the witness, the injuries didn't occur from the punch, they occurred from him falling on the ground and hitting his head," he added.

Bail is set at $2,500. Saraceno asked to have that reduced, too. Judge Mark Saltarelli also denied that request. "If I had set bail, it would have been 10X's that amount," Saltarelli said.

Saraceno said his client suffers from mental illness, and lives at a DePaul, a facility that offers among other things, residential metal health support.

He's due back in court in September.

Zuch's family has created a Gofundme to help cover medical costs.