Army Vet Who Accosted US Rep. Zeldin on Stage Stays Jailed

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A person who accosted U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin on stage because the Republican campaigned for governor will stay in custody whereas a federal choose considers his lawyer’s plea to launch the Army veteran, who he mentioned was in an alcoholic relapse.

David Jakubonis, 43, faces a federal depend of assaulting a member of Congress with a harmful weapon for the assault July 21 within the Rochester space. The cost carries a possible most penalty of 10 years in jail.

At a detention listening to Thursday, assistant U.S. Legal professional Sean Eldridge argued Jakubonis ought to be held as a hazard to the group who lunged at a congressman with a harmful weapon.

“To characterize what occurred to Congressman Zeldin that day as a detailed name is an understatement,” Eldridge mentioned.

A video of the assault reveals Jakubonis raised his arm towards the congressman from Lengthy Island as he held a keychain with two sharp factors.

“You’re accomplished,” Jakubonis mentioned 4 instances as he approached Zeldin.

Zeldin grabbed Jakubonis’ wrist and the 2 tussled to the bottom as others jumped in to assist. Zeldin suffered a minor scrape.

Protection legal professional Steven Slawinski mentioned Jakubonis was solely reaching for Zeldin’s microphone to cease him from speaking, below the mistaken perception Zeldin was disrespecting veterans. He blamed the episode on a relapse triggered by a breakup with a girlfriend.

‘”Mr. Jakubonis, if he’s consuming, does have an issue holding his liquor,” the lawyer mentioned, including that Jakubonis additionally has been prescribed psychiatric treatment that may work together poorly with alcohol.

Slawinski sought both probation with strict circumstances or inpatient care. Jakubonis, he mentioned, was an admitted alcoholic who sought remedy all through his grownup life. He developed extreme nervousness and panic assaults whereas serving a 12 months in Iraq, the lawyer mentioned, and his psychological well being declined additional after he witnessed the sudden dying of his spouse of seven years from a cerebral hemorrhage three years in the past.

“That may ship anybody right into a sprial,” Slawinski informed the courtroom.

After his spouse’s dying, Jakubonis relinquished custody of his kids to his brother and sister-in-law. Slawinski mentioned Jakubonis has not seen his kids since as a result of it’s too painful to see them name anybody else mother and pop.

Choose Marian Payson mentioned she would make a detention resolution after contemplating whether or not Jakubonis’ actions final week have been “aberrant” conduct and whether or not there’s sufficient assist in place if he’s launched from jail. She mentioned she wished to evaluate Jakubonis’ psychological well being historical past.

The choose additionally requested prosecutors to ship her a photograph of the item — which Eldridge referred to as a “cat dagger” — and its dimensions, noting that Jakubonis was launched after his preliminary arrest on a state cost. She requested whether or not opinions differed on whether or not the plastic object was thought-about “a harmful weapon.”

“It’s not designed to be a ornament. It’s designed to be a weapon,” Eldridge mentioned. “The factors are very pointy and the fabric is tough sufficient that it might puncture the pores and skin.”

The federal felony criticism filed Saturday mentioned Jakubonis “didn’t know who the speaker was or that the speaker was a political individual.” It mentioned that when Jakubonis watched video of the incident he informed investigators he “will need to have checked out” and that what was depicted within the video was disgusting.

Jakubonis was arraigned Friday on a separate state cost of tried assault within the second diploma and was launched by a neighborhood choose.

He has two prior misdemeanor DWI convictions from 2006 and 2019. His two-year probation on the 2019 depend expired in December 2021.

An enormous a part of Zeldin’s marketing campaign message has been a promise to get harder on criminals. Virtually instantly after the on-stage altercation with Jakubonis, he sought to hyperlink a New York bail reform regulation handed by Democrats to his personal case.

The regulation requires judges to free most individuals accused of lesser crimes whereas they await trial. It limits the situations when judges can require a defendant to pay cash to achieve their freedom, a system that favored wealthier individuals.

When he was initially arrested, a Monroe County sheriff’s investigator charged Jakubonis with second-degree tried assault, a criminal offense not severe sufficient to warrant his jailing or the imposition of bail.

Afterward, Zeldin tweeted that his assailant’s launch was “on account of New York’s insane cashless bail regulation.”

Democrats identified that if prosecutors had wished to present a choose discretion to jail Jakubonis, Monroe County District Legal professional Sandra Doorley — a Republican who’s listed as being a co-chair of Zeldin’s marketing campaign — might have merely picked a extra severe cost.

Even previous to the bail reform regulation, a cost of second-degree tried assault may need been unlikely to result in a choose setting a excessive bail that may have saved Jakubonis for greater than an evening.

Payson didn’t say when she would rule on the federal government’s request for detention. A standing listening to is scheduled for Aug. 24.

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