Saratoga County

Saratoga man wins retrial in jail assault case

A Saratoga Springs man convicted two years ago of punching a fellow inmate at the county jail will g

A Saratoga Springs man convicted two years ago of punching a fellow inmate at the county jail will get a new trial — and this time he apparently will represent himself.

Royal D. Hamilton, now 34, earned the new trial Wednesday after the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court found the trial judge should have granted Hamilton’s request to proceed without an attorney.

The appeals court found that trial Judge Jerry Scarano asked proper questions of Hamilton — who was being held on drug charges at the time — and that no reason existed to doubt Hamilton’s competence to waive his right to an attorney in his assault trial.

With that, the Appellate Division found Hamilton should have been allowed to proceed on his own with a standby attorney.

Saratoga Springs attorney Theresa M. Suozzi successfully represented Hamilton for the appeal, winning the new trial. Hamilton also submitted arguments on his own behalf.

Rensselaer attorney Stuart M. Cohen, as a special prosecutor, argued to uphold the conviction.

Suozzi could not be reached for comment for this story.

The appeal concerned Hamilton’s September 2013 conviction in Saratoga County Court on one count of second-degree assault. The trial lasted a week, and the jury deliberated about 10 hours before reaching its verdict.

Hamilton received a sentence of five years in state prison. His earliest release date was set for January 2017.

Authorities accused Hamilton of sucker-punching another inmate on Oct. 9, 2012. The other inmate, who worked as a kitchen aide in a jail housing unit, suffered a broken nose, bruises and cuts to his lip and nose, requiring 14 stitches.

Hamilton testified at trial and argued self-defense. The jury found no justification.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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