Suffolk County homicide detectives arrested a homeless man in Riverhead on January 14 saying he’s responsible for the death of Wayne Sapiane.
Police believe Daniel Hughes, who was subsequently arraigned on charges of second-degree assault on Wednesday, January 15, may not have been trying to kill the 64-year-old undomiciled victim, but have not ruled out further charges, awaiting autopsy results.
Both men have strong East End roots. The deceased is the brother of WLNG radio personality Gary Sapiane, and Hughes, investigators said, grew up in Springs and East Hampton. Judge Lori Hulse remanded Hughes to the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverside in lieu of $150,000 cash.
According to accounts furnished by family members, both Riverhead and Southampton Town police responded on January 2 near the corner of West Main Street and Peconic Avenue. One source said Sapiane may have picked up a cell phone that didn’t belong to him and was trying to return it when he was confronted by Hughes.
The complaint states Hughes “did strike Wayne Sapiane in the face, causing a series of medical events that resulted in the death of Wayne Sapiane. The defendant stated in sum and substance he slapped the decedent.”
His head injury was severe, police said. Emergency personnel took him to Peconic Bay Medical Center before he was airlifted to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore. Sapiane died there on January 5.
Second-degree assault is a Class-A felony. A conviction carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.