Bar fight in upstate New York turns into international incident as Serbian suspect flees with help of a Serbian Diplomat
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Re: Bar fight in upstate New York turns into international incident as Serbian suspect flees with help of a Serbian Diplomat
[link to www.nydailynews.com]
Binghamton University student at heart of Miladin Kovacevic's attack
BY MATT LYSIAK, VERONIKA BELENKAYA and LARRY MCSHANE
DAILY NEWS WRITERS
Friday, June 27th 2008, 9:10 PM
[photos there at url]
It was the wee hours of Sunday morning at the Rathskeller, a popular hangout for Binghamton college kids, and pretty Melissa Cartagena felt an unwelcome hand on her body.
It was just a grope - but it was late, the guys were drunk and soon things got out of hand.
The scene was a birthday party with a Studio 54 theme, the dance floor was full, graduation was two weeks off.
Among the many revelers was Bryan Steinhauer, a senior honors student with a slight build and a bright future.
Miladin Kovacevic was there, too. The sophomore basketball player, a burly 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds, towered above Steinhauer and the rest of the crowd. The jock and the aspiring accountant traveled in different campus circles - but they found themselves in an uncomfortably small space inside the bar on State St.
Ann Pesahovitz and Lauren Levy, standing just off the dance floor, noticed the mismatched duo. A baby blue shirt covered Steinhauer's 135-pound physique. He stood a full foot shorter than Kovacevic, who was dressed in black.
It was about 1:20 a.m. on May 4. There was a commotion and "a lot of yelling," Levy recalled, apparently after someone groped Cartagena - a pretty Binghamton University sophomore with Kovacevic's group.
The dark-haired beauty wasn't there with the ballplayer; she was with boyfriend, Sanel Softic, a 21-year-old wanna-be state trooper who claims he never laid a hand on the victim.
Kovacevic took it upon himself to defend her honor - though it was not clear who groped Cartagena. Seconds later, Steinhauer wasn't standing; then he wasn't getting up. The bespectacled senior was battered to the dance floor. Witnesses recalled the big man's foot thudding into the smaller student's torso. And then his head.
Over and over.
Steinhauer - his cheeks shattered, his skull fractured, his brain swelling - was defenseless, his body motionless.
Pesahovitz said the violence ended as abruptly as it began. "He just stopped kicking the victim," she told police, "and left."
Steinhauer's limp body was carried from the bar to an ambulance bound for Wilson Hospital.
Nearly two months after the attack, the 22-year-old known to his Brooklyn friends as Waldo remains in a coma - his promising future in suspended animation. Friends miss the Stuyvesant High School grad's honest advice and upbeat personality, and note he was not a fighter. "An amazing kid," said pal Melinda Krawitz. "Intelligent, hardworking."
Kovacevic, whose high and wide profile made him easy to identify, was arrested 11 hours later, police said. He was locked up on a felony assault charge in the Broome County jail.