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Buffalo man sentenced to jail, probation for attacking disabled man

Buffalo man sentenced to jail, probation for attacking disabled man

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A Buffalo man who broke the jaw of a stranger with a disability has been sentenced to 60 days in jail and three years of probation, Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announced.

Avery D. Hunter, 26, was sentenced by Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case, who found him guilty of third-degree assault after a two-day bench trial in May.

avery hunter

Avery D. Hunter

Prosecutors said neither Hunter nor the victim, Michael Zuch, 59, of the Town of Tonawanda, knew one another prior to the early morning of Aug. 4, 2019, when Hunter, who was riding a bicycle, encountered Zuch, who was on foot, near Grove Place and Grove Street in the City of Tonawanda.

The men argued briefly – the origins of the dispute were never made clear by police at the time – and went off in opposite directions, prosecutors said, but then Hunter turned back, had more words with Zuch and punched him in the face. Zuch fell and struck his head on the sidewalk. In addition to the broken jaw, Zuch suffered a brain bleed and was treated for several weeks in Erie County Medical Center. In addition to the injuries sustained in the attack, police said Zuch suffered from Huntington's disease, a fatal genetic disorder.

After his stay in ECMC, Zuch was transferred to a rehabilitation facility. He died in November 2019. The Erie County Medical Examiner's Office determined Zuch's death was caused by a cause unrelated to the injuries he suffered during the assault. 

At the time, City of Tonawanda Police Capt. Fredric Foels described the attack as an “unprovoked and despicable act" inflicted on a person with obvious physical disabilities. Foels said Zuch was well known and liked by officers and had never been known to cause problems. He took frequent walks in the area of Gateway Harbor Park, a short distance from the scene of the assault.

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Dale Anderson has been a Buffalo News staff reporter since 1968. He was the chief rock and pop writer for 20 years and helped establish the weekend entertainment magazine Gusto.

Related to this story

  • Updated

A Buffalo man was indicted Wednesday in the August 2019 felony assault of a City of Tonawanda man in an incident that was described by police as “unprovoked and despicable.” Avery D. Hunter, 24, was arraigned before Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case on second-degree assault charges, said the Erie County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors say Hunter delivered an

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