QUEENS -- Donna Kent was nervous and wiping tears from her eyes, as she waited to see the assistant basketball coach from Wake Forest University who’s accused of throwing a punch that ultimately led to her son Sandor’s death in August.
“It’s just hard to see someone in person who murdered your son,” Kent said.
But Jamill Jones is not charged with murder or any homicide in the Aug. 5 incident that’s caused quite a bit of online debate along racial lines. He is accused of third degree misdemeanor assault, a common charge in cases where a single punch leads to a fall or injury that results in death.
Prosecutors in the Queens District Attorney’s Office initially told Donna Kent in September that her 35-year-old son Sandor Szabo was drunk and acting belligerent, banging on cars when he couldn’t find his Uber, after attending his stepsister’s wedding in Long Island City.
They thought this might have preceded a confrontation that started with Jamill Jones backing up his white BMW and parking it on 29th Street in Long Island City.
But Donna Kent insists a second piece of surveillance footage she viewed this week in the district attorney's office doesn’t back that story.
“All present said there was no question that Jones exited his vehicle with such aggression and speed that it was shocking,” Kent said. “Jones clearly looked at Sandor after the punch, walked away, and then looked back again at him.”
Kent said Jones didn’t call 911; a witness did.
The mother said Jones went back to North Carolina and attended a Wake Forest gala before turning himself in to police in Queens four days later.
His first attorney reportedly submitted a photo to investigators that showed the back window of Jones’ BMW smashed.
Szabo’s mother thinks that was a convenient alibi.
“There was no glass at the scene,” Kent said. She added there was no damage or injury to her son’s cell phone and hands.
Sandor Szabo, a successful digital marketing executive living in Boca Raton, Florida, was pronounced brain dead on Aug. 7. He was kept on life support for two more days so his heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and liver could be donated to four, New York transplant recipients.
Coach Jones, also 35, was staring straight ahead as he left court Wednesday after a short status hearing, declining to answer questions.
His new attorney, Christopher Renfroe, issued a statement to PIX11 News Wednesday night:
“We have great empathy for the Szabo family,” the defense lawyer said. “We have no comment on the legal process underway.”
Donna Kent is pushing the district attorney’s office to upgrade the charges.
“We think negligent homicide is appropriate here under the statutes,” said Doug Curran, an attorney for Sandor Szabo’s family.
Donna Kent has been ferociously researching “one punch” deaths in the months since she buried her oldest son.
She contacted PIX11 weeks ago, after seeing our 2017 report about the "one punch" death of Bronx grandfather, Ildefonso Romero, Jr. Romero’s family was trying to create a law in his name that addresses the violence connected to "one punch" deaths. The state legislature failed to pass a felony law.
Queens had a recent “one punch” death in a Woodside bar about a week ago and another one in 2016, when a surly husband belted an elderly man on Queens Boulevard, believing the victim had bumped into his wife on a bus. Patrick Gorman died after falling to the ground. The suspect was charged with third degree misdemeanor assault.
PIX11 drove with Donna Kent Monday to the location on 29th Street and 41st Avenue where her son suffered the punch that turned fatal.
“I feel part of his soul is probably here,” the mother cried. “This is the last place he was alive.”
Donna Kent told her story Monday on the "Mary Murphy Files" Facebook Live show, shortly after visiting the site where her son was punched. See the full interview below: