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Man pleads not guilty to Vegas casino death of Utah man
First Published May 15 2012 09:33 am • Last Updated May 18 2012 08:42 pm

Las Vegas • 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 Utah man during a Las Vegas Strip casino scuffle.

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

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Buchanan says Hawkins has cooperated with authorities since the encounter that left John Massie dead 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, who was white, was from Roy, Utah.

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

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