SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 14, 2014

'Knockout' hearing delayed

BY JULIE MANGANIS
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — The hearing to determine whether an Endicott College student charged with randomly assaulting fellow students earlier this month poses a danger to the public was postponed yesterday.

The appearance of a superior court prosecutor and two new defense attorneys led to the delay in the case against sophomore Dillon DeStefano, 19, of River Vale, N.J.

DeStefano is charged in two early-morning attacks on fellow students on Feb. 2. One student suffered a broken jaw and the other a broken eye socket, prosecutors say, in what they believe is a case of someone playing the so-called “knockout” game.

The injured students said they were first approached and spoken to by another student they did not know, then punched from someone coming out of nowhere.

DeStefano is facing two counts of aggravated assault and battery, felony counts that could land him in state prison if he is indicted.

That may be in the works, with the appearance of Assistant District Attorney James Gubitose, a superior court supervising prosecutor in the Essex District Attorney’s office.

DeStefano’s family has hired two prominent defense attorneys, William Cintolo and Ray Buso, to represent the student.

The dangerousness hearing was postponed until Feb. 28, and DeStefano will remain in custody until at least then.

The one-time hockey standout was the subject of a profile in the Toronto Star after he got to skate with Wayne Gretzky, the famous hockey player, in 2006.

The then-12-year-old boy was suffering from severe Crohn’s disease, a condition that causes ulcers and other damage to the intestines. The Make-A-Wish Foundation arranged the trip.

DeStefano’s skate with Gretzky and a trip to a golf tournament run by Gretzky’s father were also covered by ESPN at the time.

DeStefano had previously been identified as being from another New Jersey town, Riverdale, due to an error on police and court documents.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.