Assault Suspect gets 60 days in Jail after Victim died during recovery

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that 26-year-old Avery D. Hunter of Buffalo was sentenced this afternoon before Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case to 60 days in jail followed by 3 years of probation.

On Sunday, August 4, 2019, at approximately 1:52 a.m., the victim was walking in the vicinity of Grove Place and Grove Street in the City of Tonawanda when he was confronted by the defendant. The parties were not known to each and a brief verbal altercation ensued. After the two men departed in opposite directions, the defendant turned around, confronted the victim a second time, and punched the victim in the face. The incident was observed by a witness.

The victim fell to the ground and hit his head on the sidewalk. He spent several weeks at ECMC where he received treatment for multiple serious injuries before being transferred to a rehabilitation center.

The victim, 59-year-old Michael Zuch, passed away in November 2019. The Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that the victim died due to an underlying medical condition and the assault did not contribute to his death.   

Judge Case rendered his verdict after an hour of deliberations following a two-day bench trial in May 2021, convicting the defendant of the lesser included offense of one count of Assault in the Third Degree (Class “A” misdemeanor). Hunter was indicted by a Grand Jury on one count of Assault in the Second Degree (Class “D” felony).

DA Flynn commends the City of Tonawanda Police Department for their work in the investigation, including Officers Bentley, Kirkwood, and Gallivan. 

The case was prosecuted by former Assistant District Attorney James M. Marra of the Felony Trials Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Hilarie Henry of the Justice Courts Bureau.

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