Football

Former SU football player Naesean Howard pleads guilty to stabbing

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.

Former Syracuse football player Naesean 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 Friday morning linked to an April 2016 stabbing. He will be sentenced to 10 years in state prison with five years post-release supervision.

“It’s good,” Ralph Cognetti, Howard’s attorney, said of the resolution. “You always want better.”

Howard, 21, and his attorney came to the decision after receiving a plea offer last Tuesday. He had the choice of either accepting the plea or proceeding with trial, which would have begun Feb. 21. Howard appeared Tuesday morning in Syracuse City Court, but a miscommunication between his attorney, the district attorney’s office and the judge delayed the possible plea deal.

A former Syracuse defensive back, Howard was dismissed from the football team during his freshman season in 2014. He was originally charged after stabbing Chauncey Scissum and Corey Winfield at a South Campus party in April 2016.

The first-degree assault charge means Howard intended to cause “serious physical injury” and was punishable of up to 25 years in prison. The West Genesee High School graduate was initially charged with two counts of second-degree assault.

In December, Cognetti said Howard suffered from concussions dating to his time in Pop Warner football. Had the case gone to trial, Cognetti said he hoped to find a link between Howard’s concussion history and his decision-making.

Howard had been medically evaluated, but his medical results may have taken months to come in.

The court gave Howard a formal no-contact order with Winfield and Scissum, two of Howard’s former teammates. Both have since announced they will transfer from SU.

“He’s quite a nice person with a great opportunity to play football,” Cognetti said of Howard. “That’s not going to happen.”

Howard’s sentencing is Feb. 17.

— Senior staff writer Jon Mettus, jrmettus@syr.edu, contributed reporting to this article.

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