By Ava Wilhite firstname.lastname@example.org
BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCIV) Helping a friend in a bar fight sent one Cottageville man to prison on Thursday. A judge accepted Jonathan Powell's guilty plea for his part in the beating death of another man outside the Moonshine Saloon two years ago.
The mother of 28-year-old Powell told a Berkeley County judge her son was only running to the aid of his friend.
"This defendant, Mr. Powell, was seated nearby in his truck and when the victim struck the codefendant he jumped from his truck ran about 10 feet and punched the victim in the side of the head," said the solicitor.
Police say on Aug. 6, 2011, Powell, his friend Justin Johnson, and Ricky Duttine were involved in a fight over a woman outside the Moonshine Saloon in Summerville.
According to witness testimony, Powell's one punch knocked Duttine unconscious, then he was kicked repeatedly by Johnson. Duttine later died at the hospital.
"One punch is all it takes; that punch was the end of it with Ricky," said a friend of Duttine's who was at the bar the night he died.
With only one punch, Powell is pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter. When Duttine's mother Paula Clark took the stand, Powell locked arms with his attorney.
"When you do hand down your sentence please take in to consideration what he's taken from us: a son, a father, a brother and a person who loved life and people," said Clark.
Jonathan Powell also gave a brief statement to the courtroom, saying, "I did not intend for this to happen, I am so sorry for everything that the Duttine family went through. I'm sorry."
However, the judge said the apology was not enough, saying a man with a prior record should not have been at that club during the fight.
Powell was sentenced to the maximum of five years; he's expected to serve at least three. As he walked away in handcuffs, the Duttine family walked out of court in shock.
"I didn't expect it. I thought he was going to walk. Santa Claus came early," said Clark.
The Duttine family says they will be ready to do this again next year as the second defendant Justin Johnson has his day in court in January.