October 28, 2021

Lawyer for Preble man charged in assault unable to appear

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Brian Sanders, left, listens with defense attorney Robert DeMarco on Thursday in Cortland County Court. Sanders is accused of beating a man in 2019 so severly that the man ended up in critical condition.

A Preble man accused of beating a Cortland man so severely he was sent to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse in critical condition had his court appearance adjourned Thursday, as his lead defense attorney was absent because of a family emergency.

Brian S. Sanders, 27, of 6594 Route 281, was arrested Sept. 3, 2019 and charged with first-degree assault and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, felonies, accused of assaulting Harold F. Hall, then 55, near 44 Main St,in Cortland, according to police documents.

Following Sanders’s last appearance in County Court on July 30, Judge Julie A. Campbell said Sanders had a medical evaluation done to check his competency and it was ruled that he could work with defense attorney Luke Fenchel.

Fenchel, however, was not present Thursday due to a family emergency, Campbell said.

“I’m not comfortable going forward without Mr. Fenchel,” she said.

Defense attorney Robert DeMarco, filled in for Fenchel on Thursday.

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Simser stated that the prosecution was ready to proceed, should the case go to a trial, and that the prosecution had been in conversation with the defense of a potential plea agreement but he did not specify details of the agreement.

Campbell also said she didn’t want a plea agreement brought forward until Fenchel was present, as he previously represented Sanders in his case in County Court.

Sanders’s next appearance in County Court is scheduled for Oct. 8.

Multiple witnesses told police they heard Sanders yelling at Hall on Sept. 3, with some saying the comments were about Hall being gay and making reference to an incident when Sanders was 18.

Sanders then attacked Hall, causing head injuries, and repeatedly slicing him with a torn-apart soda can.

David Ryan, an off-duty Cortland County sheriff’s officer, who was on Main Street during the fight, got Sanders off Hall and detained him until police arrived, Ryan said in his police statement.

“As I was holding him down the assailant said to me, ‘I wish I had killed him, I wish I would have shot him,’” Ryan said in his report.