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UPDATE: Deadly Fight Suspect Pleads Guilty to Lesser Charge

By: Jeremy Edwards, Brooks Jarosz Email
By: Jeremy Edwards, Brooks Jarosz Email

UPDATE 11/9/12 @ 4:10 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A sucker punch at the hands of Kenneth Slater Jr. was the tragic issue.

"Robert's death was uncalled for," said Bruce Adkins, Robert Adkins’ brother.

That’s what the family of Robert Adkins says took his life.

"No human being deserves to have their life taken from them in any manner, much less through a sucker punch," said the victim's ex-wife, Aimee Figgott.

It was a crime prosecutors originally considered a drunken bar fight that ended in self defense. But a second look at the evidence led to a grand jury indictment on involuntary manslaughter.

"There's no evidence whatsoever to support this defendant intended to kill him,” Assistant Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach said. “It was a one punch case."

But on Friday, Slater entered a guilty plea to battery.

"I just hit him one time to get her off of him,” Slater said. “That's all I was doing. Just trying to protect her."

Slater admitted to hitting Adkins and admitted that it was wrong.

"I'm sorry that it happened and I didn't mean to kill him," he said.

It’s a plea that’s leaving Adkins’ family frustrated in the courtroom.

"I find it frustrating that my brother died as a result of a crime and Mr. Slater is facing misdemeanor charge punishable by one year,” Bruce Adkins said. “It's also frustrating that Mr. Slater will most likely get probation."

It's a case of a family left trying to make sense of a crime that took their loved one’s life.

"You don't resolve conflicts with fists because in one split second you can take someone's life and destroy the lives of two families," Figgott said.

Two families are now left trying to move on.

Adkins’ family said he had a mechanical heart valve and pacemaker. Because of his medical condition he wasn’t a fighter, so they’re calling the attack unjustifiable.



UPDATE 11/9/12 @ 12:45 p.m.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A deadly bar fight in South Charleston is now case closed.

Kenneth Slater pleaded guilty Friday morning to battery.

Slater punched Robert Adkins during a fight back on St. Patrick's Day.

Adkins died more than a week later.

Slater was sentenced to one year in prison.

Slater was originally indicted on involuntary manslaughter.



UPDATE 9/25/12 @ 12:38 p.m.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A man charged in connection with a deadly bar fight in South Charleston says he is innocent.

Kenneth Slater Jr. pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to involuntary manslaughter.

Police say Slater punched Robert Adkins one time in the face during a fight back on St. Patrick's Day.

Adkins died more than a week later from his injuries.

Slater will go on trial November 9.



UPDATE 9/14/12 @ 1:15 p.m.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A man has been charged in connection with a deadly bar fight in South Charleston.

The grand jury has indicted Kenneth Slater Jr. with involuntary manslaughter on Friday.

Police say Slater punched Robert Adkins one time in the face during a fight back on St. Patrick's Day.

Adkins died more than a week later from his injuries.

Prosecutors originally called the case: self defense, but Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants wanted to give the case a second look.

He will be arraigned on September 25th.



UPDATE 8/24/12 @ 7 p.m.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A one-punch death case that was originally ruled by prosecutors as self defense is now under second review.

It's a case that was considered closed until now; it began with a fight over a girl and led to a sucker punch and a funeral.

However, after some pressure from the victim's family, it's now under the microscope again.

"No one, no human being deserves to have their life taken from them in any manner," the victim's ex-wife, Aimee Figgott, said. "Much less through a sucker punch."

Police say Robert Adkins was hit so hard he died more than a week later. His family has spent months fighting for answers in his unexpected death, even paying for a sketch of the suspect.

The incident happened on St. Patrick's Day night in an alley near a bar in South Charleston. Police say Adkins was talking to a girl. Later, when her boyfriend Kenneth Slater found out, he took matters into his own hands.

"You don't resolve conflicts with fists," Figgott said. "Because in one split second, you can take someone's life and destroy the lives of two families."

Prosecutors originally considered the case a drunken bar fight that ended in self defense. However, under a closer review of the evidence, Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants says Adkins may have not been an immediate threat. And with time passing before the punch, there are lingering questions of whether or not Slater was justified.

"This case is a close case," Prosecutor Mark Plants said. "It could be self defense, it could a crime and in the end 16 citizens of the county should make this decision, it's just too close to tell."

Soon the case will be in the hands of the grand jury, deciding a case that was never originally reported to police that night. Now prosecutors are relying on witnesses and a medical report to prove a death that's up for dispute.

"Our family wants Mr. Slater to be held accountable for his actions and admit the truth," Figgott said. "That's all that we've asked for from the beginning."

Prosecutors say the grand jury will decide what, if any, charges should be filed. They say alcohol did play a factor that night.

Adkins was the former alcohol beverage control commissioner.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 8/21/12 @ 11:30 a.m.
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- No charges will be filed in connection with a bar fight that ended with one man dead.

Prosecutors say they know who punched Robert Adkins outside of a bar in South Charleston back in March, but the evidence shows Adkins is the one who started the fight.

According to Prosecutors, Adkins was making advances on a man's girlfriend at the bar. He was asked to stop, and when he didn't the man punched him one time.

Adkins died at the hospital, a short time later.

Prosecutors say there is no evidence that a crime happened.



ORIGINAL STORY 5/24/12
SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Police have released a sketch of a man wanted in connection with a deadly beating.

Police say the suspect severely beat Robert Adkins near 7th Avenue on March 17, 2012. Adkins died from his injuries a few days later.

Witnesses described Adkins' attacker to police and officers say they hope the sketch will help track the man down.

Anyone who recognizes the man or has any information is asked to call South Charleston Police.


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