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Charles Okonkwo Jr. arraigned in attack on mom; expected to face charges in brother's death

Charles Okonkwo Jr. of Dix Hills is led

Charles Okonkwo Jr. of Dix Hills is led out of Suffolk police headquarters in Yaphank for arraignment in Central Islip on Sunday, July 20, 2014. Credit: James Carbone

A Dix Hills man pleaded not guilty Friday to attacking his mother, as a Suffolk prosecutor told a judge the victim may not recover from her wounds.

Charles Okonkwo Jr., 19, who lawyers say has a history of psychiatric problems, also may be charged in the death of his younger brother, authorities said.

Okonkwo was brought before state Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen in Riverhead with a heavily bandaged right hand, a possible result of what jail officials say was an attack on a correction officer last week. Okonkwo pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault of his mother.

Okonkwo's father, Charles Okonkwo Sr., watched the arraignment from the back of the courtroom. His unusual position as father of the defendant and husband and father of the victims resulted in both Assistant District Attorney Raphael Pearl and defense attorney Eric Besso keeping him informed about what was happening.

For now, he said he was concerned for his wife, still in critical condition in Stony Brook University Hospital.

"We're praying for my wife's recovery," he said. "I ask everybody to pray for my wife. My son is dead. My wife is in a coma. It's not good for me."

Pearl said Okonkwo Sr. returned home from a brief stay at Huntington Hospital on July 19 and found his younger son, Bradley, 15, dead in his bedroom. He called police, who found his wife, Chinwe, 52, with cuts and facial fractures in the garage.

"Her prognosis is very poor, your honor," Pearl said, adding that the defendant fled with his belongings to a shopping center on East Jericho Turnpike, where he was arrested.

Besso said his client had not fled but was shopping. He said his belongings were in the car because the family had just come back from a vacation before Okonkwo Sr. went to the hospital. Besso asked Cohen to order a psychiatric exam, which the judge did. Cohen set bail at $250,000 cash or $750,000 bond.

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