Man pleads not guilty to attempted murder

Sarah Eames | The Daily StarGeorge K. Wang and his assigned counsel, Brett Cowen, review a copy of the indictment against Wang for second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault Monday, March 29, in Otsego County Court in Cooperstown.

 COOPERSTOWN — A Kansas man accused of attempted murder and assault in Otsego County last fall pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday, March 29, in Otsego County Court.

George K. Wang, 23, originally of Lawrence, Kansas, was indicted in March on charges of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault, both violent felonies, after he struck a pedestrian along state Route 28 in Hartwick.

Wang is accused of intentionally driving a 2013 Hyundai off state Route 28, over the shoulder and into the grass in front of the Tops plaza, striking and seriously injuring Michael Stats, a pedestrian, on Nov. 18.

First Assistant District Attorney Christopher Di Donna said the relationship between Wang and Stats remains unknown, as does the nature of Wang’s business in Otsego County at the time.

“We don’t have a clue why he was here,” Di Donna said. “I don’t think we’ll ever know. It’s bizarre.”

Witnesses at the scene reported that the vehicle failed to stop, re-entered the roadway by swerving around other vehicles in the area and fled the scene at a high rate of speed, traveling south on state Route 28, according to the Otsego County Sheriff’s Department.

The vehicle, exhibiting extensive front-end damage, was found by a New York State Police patrol in the area of state Route 28 and the Interstate 88 interchange. Troopers stopped the vehicle and detained Wang for the deputies.

In addition to attempted murder and assault, Wang was initially charged with operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs and driving while intoxicated, neither of which were included in the March indictment.

Di Donna said the potential involvement of drugs and alcohol remains a subject of “continued discussion” that “may unfold as the case proceeds.”

Wang has been free on $300,000 partially secured bond since the initial incident. Di Donna declined to petition the court for additional bail, citing Wang’s lack of demonstrated history of failing to appear for court and lack of a prior criminal record.

Judge John F. Lambert warned Wang, a college senior at the University of Kansas studying remotely this semester from his family’s apartment in Flushing, Queens, that he risked forfeiting his current bail if he violates the terms of the bail agreement.

“If you get arrested or you don’t appear, bail will be considerably higher — maybe double, triple or quadruple,” Lambert said.

Wang was directed to file a financial affidavit to determine whether his economic status will allow him to continue to be represented by a public defender and was given a 45-day notice for his attorney to make pre-trial motions.

Under New York Criminal Procedure Law, Di Donna turned over all evidence related to the case, including body camera footage from Otsego deputies and a video recording of Wang’s interview with deputies.

Pending additional motions, Wang is scheduled to appear at 9:30 a.m. May 24, via Microsoft Teams.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at seames@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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