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Judge in Vegas accepts plea from absent defendant

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A Nevada judge accepted a written not guilty plea and scheduled trial for an absent Gainesville, Fla., man facing a felony involuntary manslaughter charge in the one-punch death of a man during a Las Vegas Strip casino scuffle.
KEN RITTER
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A Nevada judge accepted a written not guilty plea and scheduled trial for an absent Gainesville, Fla., man facing a felony involuntary manslaughter charge in the one-punch death of a man during a Las Vegas Strip casino scuffle.

Judge Abbi Silver in Las Vegas let Benjamin Hawkins' attorney, Jack Buchanan, stand in for Hawkins during Tuesday's arraignment in Clark County District Court.

Buchanan says Hawkins has cooperated with authorities since the encounter that left John Massie dead last July 6.

Hawkins claims self-defense after Massie made a comment about "a black man in a yellow shirt" in a restroom at O'Shea's Las Vegas Casino.

Hawkins is black. Massie was white. He was from Roy, Utah.

Casino video shows the punch and Massie falling backward. He died of severe brain injuries.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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