Judge Finds Defendant Guilty of Misdemeanor Assault Charge for Punching Victim with Medical Condition in City of Tonawanda

Modified: May 28, 2021 3:00pm

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Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that Erie County Court Judge Kenneth Case has found 24-year-old Avery Hunter of Buffalo guilty of one count of Assault in the Third Degree (Class “A” misdemeanor).

Judge Case rendered his verdict this afternoon after an hour of deliberations following a two-day bench trial that began on May 12 and concluded this morning, convicting the defendant of the lesser included offense. Hunter was indicted by a Grand Jury on one count of Assault in the Second Degree (Class “D” felony).

On Sunday, August 4, 2019, at approximately 1:52 a.m., the victim was out for a walk 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 without provocation, punched the victim in the face. A witness observed the events.

The victim fell to the ground and struck his head on the sidewalk. He spent several weeks at ECMC to be treated for multiple serious injuries before being transferred to a rehabilitation center.

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

Hunter faces a maximum of one year in jail when he is sentenced on Monday, August 16, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. He remains released on $2,500 cash bail posted on August 7, 2019 in City of Tonawanda Court.

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 Assistant District Attorney James M. Marra of the Felony Trials Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Hilarie Henry of the Justice Courts Bureau.