|Thursday, November 21
Graziosa faces up to year in jail for assaulting Wells
NEW YORK -- A man was convicted of assault Thursday for punching Yankees pitcher David Wells and knocking out two of his teeth during an early morning fight in a diner.
Rocco Graziosa was acquitted of two other charges after a weeklong trial in Manhattan Criminal Court. The jury deliberated less than three hours.
The 27-year-old Graziosa faces up to a year in jail when he is sentenced Jan. 15. He will remain free on $1,500 bail and was ordered to stay away from Wells.
The Yankees' star was not in court Thursday, and Graziosa showed no emotion when the verdict was read. He and defense attorney Harry Mazurek had no comment.
Wells' lawyer, Mel Sachs, didn't know whether his client wanted Graziosa sent to jail but said after the verdict that Wells "did want to make sure that justice was done.''
Sachs added that Wells showed "marvelous self-restraint'' during the Sept. 7 fight and "acted like a true Yankee, with courage and conviction.''
Graziosa was acquitted of harassment and possession of a weapon -- a butter knife he was accused of waving at Wells after knocking the pitcher to the ground on Sept. 7.
The trial began with Mazurek telling the jury that Wells was "stinking drunk'' on the morning of the fracas inside an Upper East Side diner in Manhattan.
It was the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Wells, according to Mazurek and friends of Graziosa, who grabbed the smaller man. Graziosa struck Wells in self-defense, the lawyer contended.
But Wells testified that Graziosa repeatedly cursed him, mocked his weight and made nasty comments about his late mother. When the pitcher ordered an egg-white omelet and waffles, Graziosa allegedly asked, "Why don't you order a ... cheeseburger?''
The 39-year-old Wells said he approached Graziosa's table to say "enough is enough,'' and the 5-foot-7, 150-pound bartender landed a sucker punch to his jaw. Wells insisted he never touched Graziosa.
The pitcher lost two teeth, then cracked his head on a table when he crumpled to the floor. Wells was bleeding from the forehead and mouth, and he required seven hours of dental work the next day.
The jury, during Wells' time on the stand, also heard a 911 call made by the pitcher. Wells repeatedly cursed the operator after telling him, "I just got offended.''
Wells, whose speech was unintelligible at times on the tape, testified he downed three shots of tequila during a night on the town after pitching a complete game victory a few hours earlier.
Graziosa's attorney also acknowledged his client was drinking before the fight.