GLENS FALLS — The Glens Falls man who was hospitalized after Friday night’s fatal stabbing has been released from Glens Falls Hospital and sent to Warren County Jail as police continue to delve into the moments that preceded the fatal fight.
Nicholas Hamel, 19, of West Notre Dame Street, was in Warren County Jail as of Sunday afternoon, having been treated for knife wounds to his arms and other injuries suffered in the brawl that left Charles R. Werner dead.
Both Hamel and his roommate, Skylar C. Phillips, 19, were charged with first-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault for the brawl on Union Street that left Werner with a fatal knife wound to the chest. A man who was with them, Richard L. Rothaupt, 24, of Glens Falls, was charged with felony criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Authorities allege Phillips had the knife that was wielded during the brawl, as the men confronted Werner in what police called a “drug deal gone bad.” Werner met Phillips and Hamel to purchase prescription drugs, and police believe he tried to rip them off. That led to a short foot chase on Union Street.
“They are claiming he grabbed the drugs and took off,” said Glens Falls Police Detective Lt. Peter Casertino.
Both defendants wound up fighting with Werner, who suffered a chest wound. Warren County District Attorney Jason Carusone said in court on Saturday that Phillips told police, “I only meant to stab him twice.”
A fight ensued, but it was unclear how Hamel got hurt. Werner was stabbed in the chest with a fixed-blade knife about the size of a filet knife, police said. The knife was recovered, and both suspects were still at the fight scene when officers arrived within seconds of the first 911 call, Casertino said.
He said Rothaupt was with Phillips and Hamel earlier Friday, but had left and was returning to meet them when the fight occurred.
“He came back and saw the fight. We don’t have any information that he was involved in the fight,” Casertino said of Rothaupt.
He told a Post-Star reporter on Saturday that he tried to break up the fight.
Police believe Rothaupt picked up the package of Xanax pills that Werner was to purchase, which fell to the ground during the melee, and held them until he discarded them on the floor of the police station when he was questioned as a witness Friday night.
In court on Saturday, Rothaupt denied he had them, but Casertino said “surveillance video from the (police) station shows otherwise.”
It was unclear where they planned to meet to consummate the drug sale, but they wound up on Union Street when Werner tried to rip them off.
“Exactly where the deal was supposed to take place is supposition at this point,” Glens Falls Police Chief Tony Lydon said.
The two men accused in Werner’s deaths had only lived at 33 West Notre Dame St. for a period of weeks, according to police and neighbors.
One resident of the four-apartment building at the corner of West Notre Dame and Charlotte streets said the building was generally quiet, with no problem tenants.
Casertino said Glens Falls Police had no prior interaction with either suspect for drug activity.
Phillips grew up in Victory Mills, graduated from Schuylerville High School last year and was described by those who know him as a decent young man until he increasingly became involved with drugs and alcohol in recent years. He had a prior conviction for driving while ability impaired.
Hamel was from the South Glens Falls area, had no significant criminal record and had recently worked at a restaurant in Moreau.
They face up to 25 years in prison on each of the charges, though police said it was possible the charges could be upgraded to second-degree murder when a grand jury hears evidence in the coming days.
Werner had a long history of drug-related crime, which included two felony convictions and a May 26 arrest for possessing cocaine, marijuana and a hypodermic needle during a traffic stop in Queensbury. A relative said he had been homeless in recent weeks and had dealt with mental illness.
An autopsy was performed Sunday at Albany Medical Center, but the results were not available Monday.
Casertino said police have located a “ton of witnesses” to parts of the fight, as many residents of nearby apartments looked out their windows to see what was unfolding when the fight began. He said anyone who police had not spoken to, and had information about the case, should call police at 518-761-3840.
As of Monday morning, police had not located any surveillance video of the fight. The Heritage Apartments complex has surveillance cameras, but none that captured what took place on the south side of the exterior of the building.
Not guilty pleas were entered on behalf of all three defendants during arraignments Saturday, and acting Glens Falls Judge Eric Schwenker set bail for Phillips and Hamel at $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond. Hamel was arraigned in Glens Falls Hospital.
They were being represented by the Warren County Public Defender’s Office, which had no comment on the case Saturday or Monday.
The defendants are tentatively due back in Glens Falls City Court on Tuesday, with preliminary hearings on Wednesday afternoon. A grand jury review of the case and an indictment before then would render that hearing moot, however. Authorities often seek indictments before preliminary hearings in serious cases to avoid having to produce witnesses and transport prisoners that would be needed for the lower court hearing.