HONOLULU — There is probable cause to charge a Pittsburgh tourist with manslaughter in the strangulation death of the college buddy he was vacationing with in Hawaii, a judge ruled Thursday.
Benjamin Fleming was arrested last month after his first night out on the Big Island with his two college friends ended in a deadly fight.
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.
Germany-Wald said he walked Gupta back to their Kailua-Kona Airbnb after Gupta was asked to leave a bar. Fleming stayed behind.
Germany-Wald said he locked himself in a bedroom to seclude himself from Gupta, who was angry about having to go back to the condo.
At one point, the two of them got into a fistfight, with Gupta on top of Germany-Wald and punching him, Germany-Wald testified at the hearing, which began Wednesday: “I didn’t know if he would stop.”
Fleming returned to the condo and “came to my aid and restrained Mr. Gupta,” Germany-Wald said, adding that he didn’t see what kind of hold Fleming, who is in the Army, used to restrain Gupta.
They heard Gupta snoring but later realized he wasn’t breathing, Alexander-Wald said, and Fleming called 911.
An autopsy determined Gupta had been strangled.
The three men were close friends since college at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Germany-Wald said.
Fleming’s attorney asked the judge to release him pending trial. Fleming has two job offers and a residence available to him on the Big Island, said his attorney, Christopher Eggert.
Per diem Judge Cynthia Tai denied the request and kept his bail at $250,000.