ITHACA, N.Y. – A jury found the man accused of stabbing a person last year on the Stewart Avenue bridge guilty on two out of three counts on Friday afternoon.
Khaliq Gale, 22, was indicted on first-degree assault, second-degree assault, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon after he was suspected to have stabbed a man named Zachary Pealo on September 27, 2016.
After a warrant was put out for his arrest, Gale later turned himself into police, but maintained that he did not stab Pealo in an alleged drug deal that took a wrong turn.
Related: Attorneys wrap up closing statements in Stewart Avenue stabbing trial, defendant takes stand
According to court documents, Gale was set to buy four pounds of marijuana from Pealo. During the exchange, Gale allegedly took the box and fled without paying Pealo. Surveillance video shows Pealo running after Gale, who was holding a large cardboard box. Upon running into him on the bridge, Pealo collapsed after a brief interaction, and testified that it was because he felt a sharp pain in his left thigh. The pain was later shown to be a six-inch gash across his leg, running approximately two inches deep.
With limited evidence, attorneys disputed the facts of what occurred that evening. Gales attorney Seth Peacock argued that the deal was a set-up on Pealo’s part, and suggested he may have stabbed himself with a knife he carried that night.
However, a jury found Gale guilty on two of the three charges in Tompkins County Court after a weeklong trial. Gale was convicted of second-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The jury found him not guilty of first-degree assault.
“Here’s how it works,” Judge John C. Rowley said. “You’ve been convicted of a violent felony – if you don’t come to sentencing, your lawyer can’t protect you.”
The charges could carry up to seven years in state prison for the defendant. He will continue to comply with the rules of his electronic monitoring until sentencing, which has been set for January 19 in Tompkins County Court.