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Stabbing suspect pleads not guilty


February 17. 2013 8:04AM
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WILKES-BARRE – A Hazleton man charged with stabbing two people during a fight over position in a line of customers waiting to purchase sneakers outside a Hazleton mall waived his right to a formal arraignment in county court Friday.


Carlos Manuel Mejia, 19, of North Wyoming Street, waived the arraignment on two counts of aggravated assault, entering a not guilty plea in the July 21 incident at the Laurel Mall.


Mejia, who appeared for the arraignment via video from the Luzerne County Correctional Facility, will next be scheduled for a pre-trial hearing before a county judge. He is currently being held on $100,000 bail.


According to court papers, state police in Hazleton responded to the report of a fight at about 1 a.m. at the mall entrance, where people were waiting in line for the mall to open so they could buy the newly released Air Jordan 7 sneakers.


Police found medics treating a boy, 17, for a facial injury and were notified two others – Joel Fernandez, 21, and Christopher Vega, 19, both of Hazleton, were being treated for stab wounds from a fight.


At the scene, police said they noticed Mejia had blood on his hands. After finding a knife in a nearby garbage can, they took Mejia into custody.


Mejia later told police he and three of his friends were standing in line awaiting the opening of the mall at 7 a.m. to purchase the sneakers.


Some other males approached Mejia and his friends, Mejia told police, and attempted to jump in front of them in line.


A fight began and Mejia pulled a knife from his pocket and began stabbing at the individuals, but said did not know how many people he may have stabbed.


Police said Vega was treated for a stab wound to the right side of his body while Fernandez was treated for a stab wound to his abdomen.


Two additional charges of aggravated assault, four counts of simple assault and two counts each of terroristic threats and reckless endangerment against Mejia were withdrawn at an Aug. 1 preliminary hearing.




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