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Man accused in 'knockout game' indicted, pleads not guilty

Darryl Mitchell, 20, of North Amityville, is arraigned

Darryl Mitchell, 20, of North Amityville, is arraigned on charges of assault regarding his alleged involvement in multiple knockout assaults at Riverhead Criminal Courthouse. (Dec. 18, 2013) Credit: James Carbone

An unemployed North Amityville man was indicted Wednesday by a Suffolk grand jury on assault charges stemming from "knockout game" attacks -- when unsuspecting victims are sucker punched in an attempt to knock them unconscious.

Suffolk prosecutors said Darryl Mitchell, 20, walked or ran up to seven strangers and punched them in the head or face just for the fun of it. The assaults occurred in Mitchell's hometown as well as neighboring communities of Amityville and North Babylon.

"There is no motive, none whatsoever, for these attacks, other than the thrill of the attack and the thrill of hurting somebody," Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota said Wednesday after Mitchell's arraignment.

However, Mitchell's attorney, Scott Gross of Garden City, said to characterize these incidents as anything other than assaults is going too far.

"They're calling it a knockout game and I know that phrase has a lot of buzz these days, but I don't think that that's what this is," Gross said. "And, I think when the facts sort themselves out that'll be clear."

At the time of his arrest Dec. 4, Mitchell told police he didn't do it, Spota said. He pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

The victims' ages ranged from young men to a 65-year-old man who were going about their day when they were beaten without provocation. There was a physician's assistant heading to work, a man raking leaves, one going on his daily walk, another who was on his way to church, a man searching the trunk of his car for tools and one who had just returned from grocery shopping, Spota said.

The first attack occurred April 5. The next four happened Nov. 10, 16, 18 and 30. The last two took place Dec. 1, Spota said. Some occurred in the morning and some in the afternoon.

Two of the most serious injuries Spota described came from the Nov. 10 and Nov. 18 attacks.

On Nov. 10, Mitchell punched a man walking on Jefferson Avenue, the same street where Mitchell lives with his mother, Spota said.

"He has permanent scarring and his vision has been permanently impaired," Spota said.

On Nov. 18, a man was raking leaves when Mitchell struck him on the side of the face, knocking him unconscious, Spota said.

Two of the men who were beaten on Jefferson Avenue followed Mitchell after the attacks, saw him enter a house there and alerted police, prosecutor Nancy Clifford of the Major Crimes Bureau said.

Mitchell was indicted on three counts of second-degree assault, five counts of third-degree assault and one count of fourth-degree criminal mischief. If convicted, he faces up to 7 years in prison on the most serious charge.

Mitchell did not speak during his brief arraignment before State Supreme Court Justice William Condon in Riverhead.

"I don't know who thinks this is all fun and games, but we've got citizens getting seriously hurt," Condon said before setting bail. "I think cases like these need to be taken seriously."

Mitchell was held on bail set at a $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond. Condon also granted Gross's request to have Mitchell evaluated to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.Gross, however, did not say what, if any, mental illness Mitchell may have.

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