By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT -- The man accused in a vicious attack on Falls boxer Nick Casal will face a charge of first-degree assault.
Michael Vicki will also face new charges, in an unrelated case, involving insurance fraud and the possible intimidation of a witness.
Vicki's defense attorney, James Faso, had asked Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas to reduce the highest charge his client faces in the Casal assault, arguing that the Falls boxer was not as seriously hurt as prosecutors claim.
"It is our contention that the injuries sustained by Mr. Casal do not rise to the level of assault in the first-degree," Faso said.
Faso told the judge, during a hearing Monday, that Casal, "suffered no broken bones" in the incident. Though, Faso admitted that pictures of multiple deep gashes to Casal's head were "horrible to look at."
First Assistant District Attorney Doreen Hoffmann told Farkas that Casal suffered "brain bruising" and "a brain bleed" as a result of the attack. She said that while Casal's injuries have healed, he has not been able to resume his boxing career.
A Niagara County grand jury has indicted Vicki, 30, of Portland Street, Town of Niagara, on charges of first-degree assault and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Vicki has pleaded not guilty to those charges.
Casal’s father, Ray, previously said his son was attacked as he went to leave Vicki's home on May 12. The elder Casal said Vicki is the ex-boyfriend of his son's girlfriend.
Police said Casal was hit several times by an unknown object and knocked to the ground. Investigators said evidence at Vicki’s home indicated that Casal had lost a significant amount of blood.
No weapon has been recovered in the case and Vicki has told investigators he doesn’t remember what he hit Casal with. Vicki said he and Casal had an altercation after the boxer came to his home.
Vicki told investigators that Casal was the aggressor and he had no choice but to defend himself. He also insisted that he called police following the incident and he received medical treatment at a local hospital for injuries he suffered.
In addition to the deep gashes on his head, Casal suffered a chipped tooth and a severely swollen, but not broken, arm. Reports indicate that Casal was struck 15 times in the head and body.
Farkas said she had re-read the grand jury minutes in the case and had "throughly reviewed the medical records" as well.
"Mr. Vicki will face a charge of first-degree assault," Farkas said in rejecting the defense request.
The judge moved back the date for a trial in the case, from Dec. 3 to Jan. 28, because Hoffmann will be tied up on a murder trial on the original date and because lawyers in the case are waiting for the results of DNA testing.
Hoffmann said she would continue to attempt to expedite the results of the testing. Vicki agreed to give a DNA sample after a mid-September hearing in the case.
While Vicki's assault case moved forward, he was also arraigned on charges stemming from an incident in the Falls involving a traffic accident.
Prosecutors said Vicki was driving on Frontier Avenue when he lost control of his car, missed hitting a man, woman and child, but then slammed into a tree. According to the witnesses, Vicki then ran from the crash scene.
Vicki reported his car stolen to police and filed an insurance claim for the damage to the vehicle.
He pleaded not guilty to two counts of third-degree insurance fraud and one count of attempted third-degree grand larceny.
Farkas issued an order of protection barring Vicki from any contact with the witnesses in the case. Prosecutors said Vicki may have attempted to get the witnesses to "back off" on testifying against him.
The judge told Vicki she would jail him until his trial if he, or anyone he knows, attempted to contact or intimidate the witnesses.
Prosecutors have reportedly made a plea offer to Vicki in the Casal assault. Neither side in the case has said what the plea offer is and there has been no indication of whether Vicki is considering the plea.