A Clark County jury has found Las Vegas tourist, Benjamin Hawkins, guilty of involuntary manslaughter after he punched a man to death in a Strip casino.
Hawkins, a Florida resident, was vacationing with his family in Las Vegas when he encountered John Massie, a Las Vegas tourist from Utah, at the O’Sheas casino. According to the casino’s inaudible video, after Massie left a casino restroom he went to one of the casino’s food court. A few minutes later Hawkins left the same restroom. As Hawkins passed Massie, the two men exchanged words. When Hawkins began to walk away, Massie, whose hands were in his pocket, took three steps behind Hawkins. Hawkins then spun around and punched Massie. According to the medical report, Massie died as a result of the head trauma caused when his head then slammed into the floor.
Hawkins claimed Massie was intoxicated and bumped into him in the restroom. When he left the restroom and was looking for his family he passed Massie who spoke to him. He thought Massie was going to apologize, however, instead Massie called him a racial slur and then aggressively approached him. Scared for himself, his wife, family, and friends, that is when and why Hawkins punched Massie.
After closing arguments by the lawyers, the jury deliberated for about 90 minutes before returning the guilty verdict. According to the jury, the video did not support Hawkins’ version of the events. Because he was focused on the victim and not looking for his family when he exited the restroom, Hawkins wanted to continue the confrontation that began in the bathroom. That negated the idea that Hawkins acted in self defense.
Hawkins, who is free pending sentencing, faces a prison term of up to four years. His attorney has indicated he will ask the judge to sentence Hawkins to probation.
Under the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS), involuntary manslaughter is “the killing of a human being, without any intent to do so, in the commission of an unlawful act, or a lawful act which probably might produce such a consequence in an unlawful manner.” NRS 200.070
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