After Jamill Jones’ resignation, victim’s mother continues to grieve

Wake Forest basketball assistant charged in deadly assault on NYC tourist

Wake Forest basketball assistant coach Jamill Jones has been arrested and charged with third-degree assault for the delivering a lethal punch to a New York City tourist.
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Wake Forest basketball assistant coach Jamill Jones has been arrested and charged with third-degree assault for the delivering a lethal punch to a New York City tourist.

Jamill Jones’ resignation from Wake Forest University has not brought peace to Donna Kent, the mother of the man who died last August after Jones allegedly punched him in the face during an early-morning altercation outside of New York City.

For eight months, Jones was on leave at Wake Forest, where he’d been an assistant basketball coach. He announced his resignation in a statement the university released last week, saying that resigning “is in the best interest of both the team and me personally.”

Jones’ decision has brought little solace to Kent, who continues to grieve the death of her 36-year-old son, Sandor Szabo. A native of Boca Raton, Fla., and a graduate of Millbrook High in Raleigh, Szabo traveled to New York City early last August to attend his step-sister’s wedding. He never returned home.

Jones faces a charge of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, in connection with Szabo’s death. Kent has urged prosecutors to charge Jones with a more serious crime, and in a phone interview this week she criticized Wake Forest for allowing Jones to remain on leave for so long, before his resignation.

“That university, shame on them,” Kent said. “… They dismiss coaches for having losing seasons. And this guy gets a full year, almost, eight months, on pay. To me it says nothing about Jones, it says something about the university.”

Steve Shutt, a Wake Forest athletic department spokesman, said on Thursday that the university would not comment on Kent’s complaint about the timing of Jones’ resignation, or the length of his time on leave. The university has also neither confirmed nor denied that Jones continued to be paid during his time on leave.

Jones had been on leave since Aug. 10, after he turned himself into police. Szabo died on Aug. 7, two days after he allegedly encountered Jones near an intersection in Long Island City. Kent has said that her son had been waiting for a Lyft. She acknowledges that Szabo was intoxicated after the wedding.

The details surrounding the encounter between Szabo and Jones, and what led to their altercation, remain unclear. Both men were born days apart in 1982, and both had ties to North Carolina before they randomly crossed paths in the early-morning hours of Aug. 5.

Their alleged confrontation led to the end of Szabo’s life, and it has forever changed Jones’. He was months away from entering his second season at Wake Forest, after coaching stops at Central Florida in Orlando, Fla., Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond, Va., and Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers, Fla.

“It is my sincerest hope and desire,” Jones said in his statement, “that stepping down now will allow the student-athletes, coaches and administration at Wake Forest to focus fully on their studies and on the season ahead, without distraction, while I focus all of my attention and energy on resolving my legal case.”

Kent has become a vocal critic of laws, or lack thereof, that apply to so-called one-punch death cases – those involving a fatality after a person is struck by a single blow. Such cases often fall into a legal gray area that leaves the families of victims fighting for justice, has Kent has fought during the past eight months.

The case has been continued several times. The next court date, Kent said, is scheduled for May 6. She said she expects either a resolution to the case then, or for a judge to set a trial date, if the case does go to trial.

Andrew Carter spent 10 years covering major college athletics, six of them covering the University of North Carolina for The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer. Now he’s a member of The N&O’s and Observer’s statewide enterprise and investigative reporting team. He attended N.C. State and grew up in Raleigh dreaming of becoming a journalist.