Isayah Muller had just graduated from high school, a gregarious football star on his way to a fresh start in college.
But an argument over a celebratory gift cost him his life: The 19-year-old was fatally stabbed during a fight between his father and two parking attendants he thought had stolen expensive cologne from the back seat of the family's car.
His father pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of assault and weapons possession. He was accused of instigating the fight and hitting one of the attendants with a shovel, prosecutors said. The wound required at least 10 stitches, and the argument was captured on video surveillance, prosecutors said. The father agreed to testify before a grand jury weighing evidence on whether the parking attendants should face charges.
The family had parked the car Tuesday morning in a Bronx parking lot and walked over to nearby Lehman College, where seniors at Harry S. Truman High School were graduating. Muller, a star running back, had led Truman to the Public Schools Athletic League championship this year. He was headed to Nassau Community College in the fall.
Following the ceremony, the family returned to the car and headed for dinner on City Island, a fishing hamlet on the northeastern tip of the Bronx. On the way, the father, Andre Muller, noticed the cologne missing from their vehicle, turned the car around and headed back to the parking lot.
When he arrived, he started arguing with the two lot attendants and hit one, Ramon Hernandez, with a shovel, police said. When Isayah Muller came out to help his father, he was stabbed in the chest, police said. Who stabbed Muller was not clear.
The father and son raced back to the car, where his mother and girlfriend were waiting and drove him to a clinic. The teen was later taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly before 6 p.m., police said.
His Facebook page portrayed a fun-loving but hardworking sports fan. Friends and family posted how proud they were that he was planning to go to college.
Muller rushed for 285 yards during the high school championship game in November, which Truman won, 23-20, over Beach Channel.
"I really wasn't tired," Muller told ESPN. "This is my last game of my high school career. I didn't want to take one step off that field. I'm still not tired. I could play the whole game all over again."