HONOLULU (AP) — A Pittsburgh man charged with manslaughter in the death of a friend he was vacationing within Hawaii will be allowed to return to the U.S. mainland before his trial, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Benjamin Fleming, released on a $250,000 bond, must return to the Big Island for hearings in June and two weeks before his Aug. 3 trial date, 3rd Circuit Court Judge Robert D.S. Kim ruled.
Fleming and two friends he’s known since attending Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh were staying at a vacation rental in Kailua-Kona last month.
Alexander Germany-Wald of Montclair, New Jersey, testified at a preliminary hearing for Fleming that their friend, Abhishek Gupta, also of Pittsburgh, got “psychotically” drunk on their first night on the Big Island.
Germany-Wald said he walked Gupta back to the rental, where Gupta punched him. When Fleming returned to the condo, he intervened by restraining Gupta, Germany-Wald said.
Gupta was on the floor snoring, but the two other men later noticed he stopped breathing, Germany-Wald said.
An autopsy determined Gupta had been strangled.
Kim on Wednesday denied Fleming’s request to reduce his bail to $100,000. Kim noted that a bail bonds company had already posted the $250,000.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Charles Murray didn’t oppose allowing Fleming to leave Hawaii but said his bail should remain the same due to the nature of the charge and his lack of ties in Hawaii.
Kim said Fleming may leave, but imposed conditions including not leaving the U.S. without court permission, signing a waiver of extradition, and returning at least two weeks before his trial begins.
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