CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Balking at a probation recommendation, a Kanawha County circuit judge gave a Charleston man a year in jail for delivering a St. Patrick's Day punch that led to another man's death.
Kenneth Ray Slater, Jr. pleaded guilty Friday to battery charges in the death of Robert Adkins, 51, a former Alcohol Beverage Control Administration employee who reportedly was grabbing Slater's girlfriend on St. Patrick's Day outside of a South Charleston bar.
After warning him several times, Slater punched Adkins, who fell to the ground and hit his head on the sidewalk. He did not immediately go to the hospital and he was found unconscious at his home three days after the incident.
"He kept grabbing on my girlfriend," Slater told Judge Tod J. Kaufman during Friday's hearing. "He kept grabbing and I punched him one time. That was it, sir."
Police reports indicated that Adkins suffered from severe brain trauma, a skull fracture, and a broken nose.
Kanawha County assistant prosecutor Fred Giggenbach told Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman that investigators did not have evidence that Slater intended to kill Adkins and recommended a term of probation.
Kaufman asked Slater if he knew he committed a criminal act by punching Adkins. Slater hesitated before answering, "I didn't know it was wrong."
Kaufman decided to levy a one-year jail sentence on the battery charge, a misdemeanor.
Prosecutors initially declined to open a case against Slater, since the initial investigation indicated that he was defending his girlfriend.
"How in the world would you get a jury of people in this valley to agree?" Dan Holstein, chief of staff for the prosecutor's office, said previously. "I think every guy in the valley would have done something similar and every girl in the valley would hope their guy would do something similar."