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Man charged with fatal assault indicted by grand jury, arraignment scheduled for Thursday

UPDATE: Daniel Hughes pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Jan. 23 and is being held on $150,000 cash bail or $300,000 bond. He is due back in court Feb. 3.

Original Story: Daniel Hughes, the 38-year-old man who was charged with a Jan. 2 assault that led to another man’s death on West Main Street in Riverhead, has now been indicted by a Suffolk grand jury and will be arraigned on additional charges Thursday before Suffolk County Court Judge Timothy Mazzei in Riverside.

After his arrest on Jan. 14, Mr. Hughes was initially charged with second-degree assault. Police say he punched 65-year-old Wayne Sapiane of Riverside in the head and Mr. Sapiane died from those injuries Jan. 5 at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore.

The charges Mr. Hughes faces now include a top charge of second-degree assault and an additional charge of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. The indictment was handed down Friday. 

Mr. Hughes is listed by Suffolk County police as being “undomiciled,” or homeless, but previous Riverhead Town Court entries list his home as being Lincoln Street in Riverhead. 

Mr. Sapiane also was listed as “undomiciled,” but relatives say he was living with friends. 

At Mr. Hughes’ original arraignment in Riverhead Town Court, assistant district attorney Eric Aboulafia said Mr. Hughes had made an oral statement and a 45-minute video admitting to the attack and at one point claiming he “knocked out” Mr. Sapiane.

Mr. Hughes has a criminal record that is 43 pages long, the ADA said, and has 31 arrests and 21 convictions.

He had five cases on the Jan. 15 Riverhead Town court calendar. 

Theresa Martin, the mother of Mr. Sapiane’s 27-year-old son, Taylor, said outside court in Riverhead that the charges are not serious enough. 

“He knew what he was doing. It was not an accident,” she said. “He should be charged with murder.”

Ms. Martin said the dispute between Mr. Sapiane and Mr. Hughes started when Mr. Sapiane mistakenly took Mr. Hughes’ cellphone from a charging station. As Mr. Sapiane was giving the phone back, she said, Mr. Hughes attacked him. 

Mr. Hughes’ court-appointed attorney, John Halverson, pleaded not guilty and said his client wants a jury trial.