NEW YORK — Donna Kent’s eyes filled with tears and her voice quavered, as the North Carolina mom and businesswoman walked up 29th Street in Long Island City to the spot where her son, Sandor Szabo, received a fatal punch that ended his life in August, when he fell to the concrete and suffered a catastrophic brain injury.
“It was just important for me to see,” Kent said, her voice shaking with emotion. “I feel part of his soul is probably here. This is the last place he was alive.”
Kent is getting ready for her first face-to-face in a Queens courtroom with the man accused of punching her son early Sunday morning on August 5, at the intersection of 29th Street and 41st Avenue.
Sandor Szabo had left his stepsister’s wedding and his mother acknowledges she heard he’d had a lot to drink. Szabo had been frustrated by his inability to find an Uber to take him back to his hotel, and some witnesses said he’d been knocking on some cars and acting belligerent, before Jones came along in his white BMW.
Jamill Jones is an assistant basketball coach at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
The irony isn’t lost on Kent, who initially thought a surly New Yorker had assaulted her son.
The 35-year-old Jones is the same age as Szabo was, though much bigger in size, and Szabo’s mom is anguished that the coach is only charged with third degree misdemeanor assault, even though the medical examiner ruled Szabo’s death was a homicide.
“Jones just clocked him so hard that Sandor’s teeth came through the entire lower part of his lip. Sandor had no interaction with him. My son had just started walking away, he heard a forceful run, Sandor put his arms up.”
Speaking of the coach, Kent observed, “He knows what kind of damage a blow like that can do. They had to push my son’s teeth back into his mouth. Jones just walked away. He went back to North Carolina to attend a gala.”
Jones and his attorney later showed up at a Queens police precinct four days after the assault.
The grieving mom said her younger son and civil attorneys have screened a second surveillance tape that shows footage of the entire incident, footage that hasn’t been released to the public.
Kent is upset with the District Attorney’s office in Queens, believing prosecutors are siding more with Jamill Jones, whose attorney brought a photo claiming Sandor Szabo broke the coach’s back window on the expensive BMW.
Kent counters the 2nd piece of surveillance footage doesn’t offer any proof that Sandor smashed a car window, and she noted his hands were pristine when he was taken to the hospital.
The mother takes some comfort in the fact that her son’s death provided the gift of life to four New Yorkers. Szabo’s heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and liver were donated.
He was pronounced brain dead on August 7, but his body was kept alive so his organs could be harvested to save others. He was removed from all machines on August 9.
Donna Kent pointed out that her son, who worked successfully in digital marketing, was beloved in Boca Raton, Florida, where he lived with his brother.
His funeral service brought out people of all ages—between 30 and 90. Kent said her son was kind to the elderly residents in his condo complex, often helping them with groceries.