Man accused of fatal punch faces judge

Posted: Updated:

The suspect accused of delivering a punch that killed a man faced a judge at the Riverhead Town courthouse Wednesday.

According to police, 38-year-old Daniel Hughes punched 65-year-old Wayne Sapiane in the face on Jan. 2 in the vicinity of West Main Street in Riverhead.

The victim was brought to the hospital, and prosecutors say he then suffered a series of medical events that ultimately led to his death on Jan. 5.

Authorities say both men involved in the confrontation were homeless.

Relatives describe Sapiane as a loving man and a free spirit, who liked to play the guitar and go to the beach.

Prosecutors say Hughes has a long rap sheet with more than 30 arrests and more than 20 convictions.

Right now, he's being charged with assault, but according to the victim's family, those charges should be upgraded.

"I hope this man stays in jail and rots in jail for the rest of his life," said Sapiane's former spouse, Theresa Martin. "And I want his family to feel the pain we're feeling now. Because now my son doesn't have a father, and his sister doesn't have a father, and his other sister doesn't have a father. And it's unfair."

Prosecutors say the case could go before a grand jury later this week, which may lead to additional charges.

Defense attorney John Halverson said his client will fight any charges he faces, and insists the victim's death was not intentional.

"This was an accident if anything, and certainly nobody intended to kill anybody or hurt anybody that badly on that day," said Halverson.

Hughes is being held on $300,000 bond. He's due back in court on Friday.

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