The lawyer for a Ronkonkoma jogger charged with assault last week after Suffolk police said he stabbed a motorist in Centereach 11 times said Wednesday his client was acting in self-defense.

Smithtown-based lawyer Phillip Jusino said he would ask Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney’s office to drop the felony charge of assault with intent to cause physical injury with a weapon against his client, Matthew Ulloa, 18, or he will enter a not guilty plea if the case proceeds.   

The victim “jumped my guy from behind and grabbed him around the neck, tackled him to the ground — that is when my guy fought back and stabbed him,” Jusino said in a phone interview. That account, Jusino said, came from an employee of a flooring store near where the Sept. 1 confrontation took place who reviewed the store’s security camera footage. 

In a release last week, police said Ulloa yelled something at the motorist who was pulling in to get gas at a 1992 Middle Country Rd. Shell station around 8 p.m. Thursday. Ulloa kept jogging, but the motorist gassed up and confronted him about half a mile west, near the Long Island Paneling, Ceilings and Floors store at 2410 Middle Country Rd.

The motorist was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious injuries. Police declined to comment on an ongoing investigation and said they had no update on the motorist's condition. A spokeswoman for Tierney’s office declined to comment. 

Jusino said his 137-pound client, a Suffolk County Community College student, had bruises on his neck after the encounter. Ulloa was carrying a knife legally “because he had a situation prior where he felt his life was in danger,” Jusino said. The attorney did not elaborate, other than to say that situation had not involved the motorist. 

Ulloa did not hear the motorist approach because he was wearing earbuds, and was jogging to get in shape because he hopes to join the Navy, Jusino said.   

Ulloa, released with non-monetary bail conditions after arraignment last Friday, is scheduled to appear Sept. 21 in Suffolk First District Court, Central Islip.

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