Football

Timeline: Nasean Howard stabbing of former teammates

Jon Mettus | Senior Staff Writer

Naesean Howard, right, with his attorney, Ralph Cognetti, Friday morning in Syracuse City Court. Howard pleaded guilty to an April 2016 stabbing incident.

At around 6 p.m. one Saturday last April, former Syracuse football player Naesean Howard pulled out a pocket knife and stabbed two of his former teammates at a South Campus party. Assault charges, a suspension from Syracuse University, a trespassing arrest and a series of court appearances ensued.

Friday, Howard pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree assault, one count of second-degree assault and one count of criminal possession of a weapon. Next month, the 21-year-old West Genesee High School graduate will be sentenced to 10 years in state prison with a five-year post-release supervision.

Here’s a breakdown of how the case has unfolded.

April 16, 2016
A year and a half after getting kicked off the Syracuse football team, Howard stabs former SU safety Chauncey Scissum and cornerback Corey Winfield at a party at 321 Slocum Drive. Howard is charged with two counts of assault in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.

April 18, 2016
Court documents show Howard stabbed Winfield with a pocket knife in the right lower back, upper right chest, left abdomen and left wrist. Howard then stabbed Scissum on the right side of his neck, right upper chest, left shoulder and bottom lip. On April 18, the Monday after the stabbing, Howard is arraigned.

April 19, 2016
A witness at the party describes Howard as having “tunnel vision” and being “very determined” when carrying out the stabbing. About 100 people dispersed the party after seeing Howard with a knife chasing a blood-mouthed man, the witness said.

April 20, 2016
Four days after the stabbing, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers speaks publicly for the first time. He said Howard had approached him outside of Manley Field House about joining the team. Babers also said Winfield was released from a hospital the Monday after the stabbing, while Scissum remained in a hospital.

“It’s a blessing both of these young men are still with us,” Babers said.

Howard is also bonded out of jail. His bond is set at $40,000.

April 22, 2016
At Howard’s second court appearance less than a week after the stabbing, Howard changes his representation and is ordered to have a health exam.

May 6, 2016
Howard is indicted on a first-degree assault charge, which is punishable of up to 25 years in prison. The mental health exam results remain unknown, and he remains free on bail.

May 10, 2016
At a felony arraignment, Howard pleads not guilty to stabbing Winfield and Scissum. “There’s a lot more to this case than going up to them and doing what he allegedly did,” said Irene Aurora Flores, Howard’s attorney at the time.

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Courtesy of Syracuse Police Department

June 27, 2016
At a motions hearing, Flores said she plans to have Howard undergo an MRI on his brain to determine whether concussions impacted his decision-making. Results are unknown.

Sept. 21, 2016
Howard, who did not play for SU before his removal from the team in 2014, is charged with trespassing on the SU campus. He entered Sims Hall and remained there unlawfully before he was arrested by the SU Department of Public Safety.

Sept. 23, 2016
Howard is arraigned following his trespassing charge and ordered to avoid the SU campus. Judge Anthony Aloi orders him to be held at the Onondaga County Justice Center without bail.

Sept. 29, 2016
A person who answered the phone at Flores’ office says Flores was no longer Howard’s lawyer.

Nov. 18, 2016
The trial date for his stabbing incident is set for Feb. 21, 2017, and a pretrial hearing set for Dec. 16. Plea negotiations are ongoing. Assistant District Attorney Michael Manfredi said based on the severity of the injuries, he’s leaning toward the punishment being “on the higher end of the scale.”

Nov. 19, 2016
Winfield, one of the stabbing victims, announces via Instagram that he will transfer and use his fifth year of eligibility elsewhere. He was Syracuse’s No. 1 cornerback in 2016, during which he recorded one interception and four pass breakups. He had 41 tackles during SU’s 4-8 season.


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Dec. 16, 2016
Ralph Cognetti, Howard’s attorney, says Howard will undergo a series of medical tests to discover if he had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease linked to repeated hits to the head. Cognetti said during the pretrial that if there’s a link between his concussion history and decision-making, the intent element of his alleged-crime could be negated.

“Then we’ve got a tool to use either at trial or in negotiations that will perhaps get a lesser charge,” Cognetti said.

Later in the day, Scissum, one of the stabbing victims, announces via Instagram that he had been granted his release and will transfer for his fifth year of eligibility. As a redshirt junior in 2016, Scissum played in six games, recording one assisted tackle. He announced his intent to transfer on Nov. 29.

Jan. 17, 2017
Judge Robert L. Bauer honors a 10-year plea deal set by Aloi, who retired at the end of 2016. The plea offer gives Howard one week to accept the offer or proceed with trial. The offer is a 10-year sentence and five-year post-release supervision.

“If we go to trial and the jury doesn’t agree with my proposition, then my client faces the possibility of getting a lot more than five years,” Cognetti said. “I’ve got to make a decision.”

Jan. 27, 2017
More than nine months after his first court appearance, Howard pleads guilty to one count of first-degree assault, one count of second-degree assault and one count of criminal possession of a weapon linked to the April 2016 stabbing. He will be sentenced to 10 years in state prison with a five-year post-release supervision.

Feb. 17, 2017
The date of Howard’s sentencing is set for Feb. 17, 2017. Cognetti said Howard will likely be granted early release after eight years in prison.

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