Jul. 7, 2023 By John Schilling
Two workers accused of an alleged assault on a customer in a Rockaway Park deli last month were indicted and arraigned in court on July 7 on first degree strangulation charges and other crimes, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
Saber Abuhamra, 34, and Jorge Hernandez, 23, are accused of allegedly “coming out from behind the counter” at Pickles & Pies, a 24-hour deli located at 202 Beach 116th St., and attacking James Keena, 31, over a verbal dispute about his food order.
The four-count indictment charges Abuhamra and Hernandez with strangulation in the first degree, strangulation in the second degree, assault in the second degree and assault in the third degree. If convicted of the first degree strangulation charge, the two face up to 15 years in prison.
“A grand jury has weighed in and these defendants stand accused of a brutal attack and will be held to account,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement.
According to the charges, the alleged assault took place on Saturday, June 11, at dawn between 4:50 a.m. and 5:15 a.m. Hernandez is accused of punching and pushing Keena, “causing him to hit his head on a counter” in the store.
The charges state that Hernandez then allegedly put his arm around Keena’s neck and held him on the floor while Abuhamra allegedly punched and kicked him in the head and stomach for several minutes after he “lost consciousness” and “began seizing and shaking.”
Once police arrived, Keena was transported to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in “critical condition” before being placed on life support after not being able “to breathe on his own.” Abuhamra and Hernandez were both taken into custody at the scene.
As a result, Pickles & Pies closed for further police investigation before reopening later in the day. The deli has remained open since.
Queens Supreme Court Justice Toni Cimino ordered both Abuhamra and Hernandez to return to court on Aug. 3.