(Updated 7/2, 12:00) Corey Stokes was charged with aggravated assault on Friday after a a bar fight along that occurred early in the morning of Thursday, June 30 at a bar near One Hudson Place in Hoboken. One of the alleged victims in the assault suffered a broken jaw.
Also charged in the crime were Keith M. McGrath and Derrel L. Williams, 23, both from Bayonne.
The complaint filed against them claims that they punched and kicked one victim "about the head and body," causing a fractured jaw and requiring surgery. A second victim was also punched and kicked and suffered lacerations above his eyebrows, inside his lower lip and in the back of his head. Both allegedly lost consciousness during the incident.
The case is being prosecuted by Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor, Howard Bell, who told the court that the victims identified Stokes, McGrath and Williams as the attackers. They were ordered held on $20,000 bail and to have no contact with the alleged victims.
In the state of New Jersey, a defendant can be found guilty of aggravated assault if he either caused or attempted to cause bodily injury to another. The degree of the assault charge
Assuming there is an injury, the state must therefore prove two things beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) that the defendant(s) caused the victim's serious bodily injury; and (2) that the defendants either acted purposely or acted so recklessly under the circumstances to manifest "extreme indifference to the value of human life."
The first element is simple causation. If Stokes and/or his alleged accomplices actually punched and kicked and landed the blows that caused the victims injuries, the first element is satisfied.
The second element requires the state to prove that the defendants consciously intended to cause a bodily injury. This is a "specific intent" crime, so the defendant must be aware of the likely result of their actions — and it is also one area where a defense attorney may attempt to attack the charge.
Stokes may attempt to argue that he did not commit the actions he has been accused of and will need to offer up enough testimony and evidence to create a reasonable doubt in the prosecution's case. He may also attempt to excuse the actions by arguing that he was acting in self-defense, or for another reason.
For example, when an assault case results from a bar fight, the defense of intoxication is a likely option. This is an affirmative defense to "specific intent" crimes like assault. In order to argue intoxication, the defendant must admit to having committed the act involved, but then may claim that their level of intoxication was such that they were not aware of the consequences of their actions and negating the intent element of the crime.
Update 12:00p: Brandon Stokes, the brother of Corey, tweeted this morning that there are inaccuracies in the NJ.com and Jersey Journal stories. He claims that the media "made [Stokes] the center of something he didn't do." Furthermore, at least one commenter on NJ.com, going by "Nana," claims that the alleged victims in this case were actually the instigators of the fight and that only one of the three defendants participated.