A University at Buffalo men’s basketball player has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in connection to the stabbing of a Canisius College player during a pickup basketball game in September in North Tonawanda.
Malik Zachery pleaded guilty Monday to a Class A misdemeanor charge of assault in the third degree in a disposition hearing in North Tonawanda City Court.
The incident took place last Wednesday at 875 Eggert Road, which is the address of St. Matthew Lutheran Church.
Zachery’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 21 in North Tonawanda City Court, but his attorney said he will not face a jail term because of the plea agreement.
Scott Hitchon, who plays basketball at Canisius, was stabbed in the leg in the Sept. 9 incident, which North Tonawanda police said resulted from a fight between UB and Canisius players.
Niagara County Assistant District Attorney Maria H. Stoelting initially offered Zachery a plea agreement with one count of third-degree assault at a hearing March 25.
A criminal case involving a University at Buffalo men’s basketball player has been moved to May for a potential disposition.
“My client had suffered the greater injury, and pled guilty to resolve the matter and to continue his academics and with the Buffalo basketball team,” Zachery’s attorney, Thomas Eoannou, told The News following the hearing. “He acknowledged that he injured Mr. Hitchon. This was done after a lengthy discussion with the court. I think this was a very fair disposition, all around.”
Hitchon did not return a message seeking comment.
Zachery, 22, was arrested Sept. 11, and was initially charged with second-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He originally pleaded not guilty to the two initial charges, and on Monday withdrew his original plea to those charges.
Zachery made a virtual appearance at the disposition hearing, as did his attorney and Stoelting. When asked by Judge Shawn P. Nickerson if he intended to cause injury to Hitchon, Zachery answered, “Yes, sir.”
Nickerson accepted Zachery’s plea and requested a pre-sentencing investigation.
“There were 12 to 15 kids jumping on five kids from Buffalo,” said Michael Zachery, who lives in the Syracuse area. "Other players had to fight off two or three players a piece."
Eouanno asked Nickerson for consideration that Zachery’s basketball scholarship at UB hangs in the balance. Zachery did not play this season, as he was indefinitely suspended from the team following his initial arrest in September.
UB, through an athletic department spokesperson, declined to comment on Zachery’s status with the team or his plea agreement.
Zachery must also cooperate with the Niagara County Probation Department during the process of a pre-sentencing investigation.