Second jury convicts man of violent assault

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A man whose first trial ended in a hung jury has been convicted of first degree assault following a second trial.

In March 2013, William Henley attacked his mother’s boyfriend, 52-year-old Burnett Hopkins, stabbing him twice in the back and three times in the chest, piercing his heart. Henley also repeatedly slashed the victim with such ferocity that he exposed the victim’s arm muscle.

When police initially responded to the scene, officers found Henley hiding in the basement covered in blood. He claimed an unknown assailant had attacked the victim and fled.

During his trial, Henley instead claimed he was the actual victim, and that he was acting in self defense. His attorney insisted that the stab wounds to Hopkins’ heart were actually caused by a negligent trauma surgeon.

Erie County DA Frank Sedita says the surgeon actually saved Hopkins’ life after the brutal assault.

Henley’s first trial ended when a jury deadlocked 10-to-2. His second trial ended with a jury finding him guilty of the attack.

Sedita says Henley is no stranger to violent crime, having spent 15 years in jail in connection with the kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman. He was also indicted after being found with 35 bags of crack cocaine, but in 2013 a judge dismissed the case over issues concerning the search warrant used to find the drugs.

For the attack on Hopkins, Henley could be sentenced to 25 years in prison. He will be sentenced in August. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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