Former Syracuse football player Naesean Howard due back in court Friday after ‘misunderstanding’ with plea deal

Courtesy of the Syracuse Police Department

Howard is due back in court Friday morning, facing first- and second-degree assault charges in connection with an April 2016 stabbing.

Former Syracuse football player Naesean Howard will appear back in court on Friday to accept or refuse a plea deal that he was supposed to have made a decision on by Tuesday morning’s court appearance. But a “miscommunication” between his attorney, the district attorney’s office and the judge has delayed the possible plea deal.

The attorneys thought Judge Robert L. Bauer would honor a five-year plea deal set by former Judge Anthony Aloi, who has since retired, passing on the case to Bauer. The terms Bauer is seeking are more than the minimum five years, though.

“There was, more or less, just a misunderstanding,” assistant district attorney Michael Manfredi said. He wouldn’t discuss the particulars of the terms because it is “an ongoing negotiation.”

“I don’t know what’s going to happen on Friday at all,” Manfredi said. “If there’s a plea Friday, it’s done. If there’s no plea Friday, I think we’re 100 percent heading to trial.”

Howard is facing first- and second-degree assault charges in connection with the stabbing of then-Syracuse football players Chauncey Scissum and Corey Winfield at a South Campus party in April 2016. He could serve up to 25 years. Both Scissum and Winfield returned to the field for SU for the 2016 season but have since announced plans to transfer.


The trial start is set for Feb. 21, but Howard’s attorney, Ralph Cognetti, has said it could be delayed pending test results. Howard has been medically evaluated to discover if he had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.), the degenerative brain disease linked to repeated hits to the head. If there’s a link found between Howard’s concussion history, then the intent element of his alleged crime could be negated.

“We’ve got a defense that’s being formed — the fact that this man has suffered quite seriously from successive concussions,” he said on Jan. 17. “We think there’s a chance that injury may have affected his ability to intentionally perform this assaultive behavior.”

Bauer said Tuesday that the case would remain on track if there’s no plea Friday. Manfredi said “we’ll see” when asked afterward if the date is feasible.

Howard spent only a few months on the Syracuse football team before he was dismissed as a freshman in 2014.


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