The Wake Forest University basketball coach accused in the death of a Boca Raton man was released from a New York City jail on his own recognizance Thursday night.
Jamill Jones, an assistant men’s basketball at the university in Winston-Salem, N.C., was released shortly after he turned himself in, his attorney, Alain Massena, told The Palm Beach Post on Friday.
Jones, 35, is scheduled to appear in court again on Oct. 2. He faces a third-degree assault charge after authorities alleged that he punched 35-year-old Sandor Szabo during an encounter early Sunday on a street corner in the borough of Queens.
Szabo hit his head on the pavement as he fell and died two days later. The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Szabo’s death to be a homicide. He died from “blunt impact” injuries to his head and brain, the office said.
Szabo was in New York City for the weekend to attend a wedding and was waiting for a ride from Uber at about 1:15 a.m. Sunday after he left his brother’s hotel room, members of his family said this week.
They said he tapped on the windows of cars as he tried to determine which was his Uber ride. New York City police said that one of those vehicles was an SUV driven by Jones, who allegedly got out of his vehicle and punched Szabo during a brief encounter.
It was not clear why Jones was in New York City or what his motive for throwing the punch may have been.
Szabo’s mother, Donna Kent, and stepfather, Bob Kent, appeared Friday morning on NBC’s Today show to speak about Jones’ arrest.
“He just tapped on the wrong guy’s window,” Donna Kent said in the NBC interview about her son. His cellphone had died, she said, and he couldn’t find his driver.
Bob Kent added that Szabo had been hit so hard that his one of his upper teeth was pushed through his lip.
Jones and his family released a statement through his attorney extending condolences to the Szabo family for their son’s loss. The statement asks for the case to be tried in a court of law -- not “the court of public opinion.”
It states that Jones is a “wonderful son and father - a good-hearted man who protects his loved ones from harm.”
Bob and Donna Kent reacted to the statement by wondering why Jones left without trying to help.
“If you’re this good father, son, husband, why not try to take him to the hospital and see if you could save his life?,” Bob Kent asked in the NBC interview
Added Donna Kent: “I’m sorry, your condolences are a little bit too late.”
The Wake Forest athletic department announced Friday afternoon that Jones had been placed on leave.
Wake Forest Athletic Director Ron Wellman spoke to Jones Friday and Jones “agreed that the decision is appropriate at this time given the circumstances,” the university said.
“Wake Forest University expresses heartfelt condolences to Sandor Szabo’s family and friends following his tragic death,” the university’s statement read.
The Jones family’s statement mentioned his work as a basketball coach and called Jones “one of the top assistant college basketball coaches in the country.”
He joined Wake Forest in 2017 after previously working as an assistant coach at the University of Central Florida, Virginia Commonwealth University and Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.
Szabo worked as a marketing professional and “did everything” at What If Media, a digital marketing firm, according to the company’s CEO, Josh Gillon. Gillon said Szabo lived with his brother in Boca Raton and worked remotely for What If, which is based in Fort Lee, N.J., near New York. He said Szabo had been a Boca Raton-based company’s liaison to What If for about five years before moving over to the firm.The company posted a notice of his death on the company’s Facebook page. “He was critical in helping our our company’s recent rapid growth,” the Facebook posting said. “Our company has about 25 employees, all of whom are very close; he was part of our family.”