A 37-year-old Pittsburgh man charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of a fellow visitor from Pittsburgh has posted bail.
Benjamin Fleming was freed Monday after posting $250,000 bail, according to court records. He is slated to make his initial appearance in Kona Circuit Court today, where he will enter a plea to the single Class A felony that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.
Fleming was arrested March 29 after Hawaii Police Department officers were called to a vacation rental at the Kona Mansions Condominiums for an unconscious man who was not breathing following an altercation with his roommates.
Medics, who were already on the scene, determined that the victim, identified as 30-year-old Abhishek Gupta of Pittsburgh, was already deceased.
A second man arrested at the scene, a 31-year-old New Jersey man, was released without charges.
An autopsy found the cause of death to be strangulation and manner of death to be homicide.
During a two-day preliminary hearing last week, the New Jersey man testified the three college friends had arrived on the Big Island on March 28. Alexander Germany-Wald said Gupta had gotten “psychotically” drunk and he walked him back to their Kailua-Kona Airbnb after Gupta was asked to leave a bar. Fleming stayed behind.
Germany-Wald said he locked himself in a bedroom to seclude himself from Gupta, who was angry about having to go back to the condo.
At one point, the two of them got into a fistfight, with Gupta on top of Germany-Wald and punching him. Fleming returned to the condo and “came to my aid and restrained Mr. Gupta,” Germany-Wald said during the preliminary hearing.
With Gupta laying in the hallway floor, Germany-Wald said Fleming joined him in the kitchen where they drank a beer. He testified that he could hear Gupta “snoring” in the hallway. They checked on Gupta after several minutes because they no longer heard him snoring and realized he wasn’t breathing. Fleming called 911.
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Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald