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Ex-coach pleads not guilty to Vegas casino death of Utah man

Published May 15, 2012 3:12 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

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 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.