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Former coach gets jail time in Vegas casino death of Utah man

Published February 14, 2013 8:43 am

Courts • Benjamin Hawkins also ordered to undergo counseling.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Las Vegas • A former high school football coach and teacher from Florida was sentenced to three months in jail and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine Thursday after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the one-punch death of a Utah man at a Las Vegas casino.

Defense attorney Jack Buchanan said he didn't believe a punitive stint in the Clark County Detention Center was appropriate for his client, 39-year-old Benjamin Gerard Hawkins, of Gainesville. Hawkins has remained free following his November conviction in the death of 46-year-old John Massie, an occupational safety and health worker at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

Clark County District Judge Valerie Adair also ordered Hawkins to serve five years of probation, undergo impulse-control and anger management counseling, and abstain from alcohol.

"We're just as disappointed in this as we were with the verdict," said Buchanan, who had sought only probation for his client.

Hawkins didn't mean to kill Massie, and the felony conviction ruined his coaching and teaching career at Bradford County High School in Starke, Fla., Buchanan said.

Prosecutor Maria Lavell had sought a sentence of one to four years in prison.

Evidence at the trial showed both men had been drinking before the confrontation.