WILKES-BARRE – A Hazleton man scheduled to enter a guilty plea to charges relating to a robbery was unable to appear in court Thursday as he is awaiting surgery on stab wounds he received in a July 21 incident.
Christopher Vega, 19, of Peace Street, was scheduled to appear before Judge Fred Pierantoni on a charge of robbery and a firearms-related charge for his alleged role in an October 2011 armed robbery.
Vega's attorney, Joseph Yeager, said his client was unable to attend the possible guilty plea hearing because he was one of the victims of a stabbing outside the Laurel Mall and is awaiting surgery for wounds he received.
State police in West Hazleton responded to a reported fight at about 1 a.m. July 21 at the mall entrance, where people were waiting for the mall to open so they could buy the newly released Air Jordan 7 sneakers.
Police found medics treating a boy, 17, for a head injury and were notified two others -- Joel Fernandez, 21, and Vega, both of Hazleton – were being treated at hospitals for stab wounds from a fight.
At the scene, police said they noticed Carlos Mejia, 19, of Hazleton, had blood on his hands. After finding a knife in a nearby garbage can, they took Mejia into custody.
Mejia later told police several people tried to jump in front of him in line while he waited for the store to open and a fight began. He said he pulled out a knife and began to stab the individuals, though he did not know how many he stabbed.
Mejia was charged with four counts each of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and simple assault, and two counts each of terroristic threats and recklessly endangering another person.
After an Aug. 1 preliminary hearing, Mejia is facing two counts of aggravated assault in county court. Prosecutors withdrew other counts. Mejia is scheduled for a formal arraignment in county court on Oct. 5.
At the time of the stabbing, Vega was free on $30,000 unsecured bail.
In the robbery case, police allege Vega and another man robbed a man at gunpoint at Locust and Third streets in Hazleton at about 9:35 p.m. Oct. 8, 2011.
Vega was captured in the neighborhood and found to be carrying a loaded gun and several bags of marijuana, the criminal complaint says.