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Long Island teen pleads not guilty to beating mother

Charles Okonkwo, Jr., 19, pleaded not guilty Friday morning to a felony charge of second-degree assault for allegedly beating his mother, prosecutors say.
Photo Credit: Suffolk County Police Dept.

A judge ordered a Long Island teen to undergo a psychiatric examination Friday after the teen was charged with allegedly beating his mother into a coma.

Charles Okonkwo, Jr., 19, pleaded not guilty Friday morning to a felony charge of second-degree assault. Acting State Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen ordered the teen held on $250,000 bail with a $750,000 bond alternative. He is due back in court on Sept. 9.

Police have said Okonkwo’s father, Charles Okonkwo, Sr., 62, returned home on July 19 from a brief hospital stay and found his wife, Chinwe Okonkwo, unconscious in the garage of their Dix Hills home. Investigators said she had suffered severe head injuries. The 52-year-old was rushed to Stony Brook University Hospital.

Prosecutors said Chinwe Okonkwo was beaten so badly that she was in a coma. Authorities said Okonkwo, who suffered facial fractures, has a poor prognosis. A hospital spokeswoman said Friday afternoon that she was in “fair condition.”

Investigators are also actively probing the death of Okonkwo’s 15-year-old brother Bradley. The teen’s lifeless body was found in his bed. Authorities said his cause of death could not be determined at the scene. Prosecutors said they are awaiting the findings of an autopsy performed by the Suffolk County medical examiner’s office.

Police said Okonkwo was arrested after fleeing the home. His defense lawyer said the teenager had a history of psychiatric issues. Cohen, the judge, ordered Friday that Okonkwo undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Newsday reported that Okonkwo allegedly attacked a correction officer while he was being held at the Suffolk County Jail last week. Online court records do not show any pending criminal charges stemming from that incident. A spokeswoman for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the jail, did not respond Friday afternoon to an email request for comment.

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