Involuntary manslaughter charge filed against man accused of fatal brawl punch
Charleston police have charged a Mount Pleasant man with involuntary manslaughter in connection with a punch landed during an April brawl that led to another man's death, authorities said.
Dalton Ellis Clarke, 24, of Lansing Drive is being held in the Al Cannon Detention Center. He is expected to have a bail hearing Wednesday afternoon, Charleston police spokesman Charles Francis said.
The arrest came one day after authorities dropped a felony assault charge against their initial suspect in the case, 26-year-old Peter John Dudinyak Jr. of Mount Pleasant. Dudinyak was released from the Charleston County jail late Monday after investigators determined he was not responsible for the death of 27-year-old Clinton Seymour, his attorney, Stephen Harris of Charleston, said.
Harris said his client was cleared after video footage and witness statements proved he didn't cause Seymour's injuries. He praised the work of Charleston police and prosecutors on the case, saying they were intent on getting to the truth.
"We were thankful we had (video cameras) in this case because it shows the facts are what my client has been saying the whole time," he said. "The evidence clearly points to someone else. My client didn't throw a punch."
Police did not comment on Harris' assertions, but noted that Dudinyak still faces a misdemeanor assault charge in connection with the episode.
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson declined to go into detail about the case because an active investigation is still underway.
Wilson did say that Assistant Solicitor Chad Simpson and Detective Richard Burkhardt spent hours reviewing video footage, witness statements and other evidence before concluding that the felony charge against Dudinyak should be dropped.
Seymour died on April 28 at Medical University Hospital, where he was being treated for skull fractures resulting from the brawl.
A joke prompted the fatal fight, according to Charleston police.
Seymour and a few friends were walking around 2 a.m. on April 26 near King and Morris streets when they made a joke that upset a passing group, according to police.
A man then "sucker-punched" Seymour, causing him to fall and hit his head on the concrete, an incident report said.
Both groups threw several jabs at one another before three of the men fled the scene in a Lexus, police said. Witnesses managed to take note of the vehicle's license plate number, police said.
A second man was treated for minor injuries at Roper St. Francis Healthcare, police said.
Dudinyak was charged in connection with both men's injuries based on witness statements at the time, according to police.
Harris said the lateness of the hour and involvement of alcohol likely played a part in his client being misidentified as the man who assaulted Seymour.
Police did not release details about their evidence against Clarke. He had a previous conviction for public drunkenness in 2010 and was arrested last year on a felony drug charge, though that case was later dismissed by Circuit Judge Roger Young, according to court records.
Seymour had recently moved to Johns Island from the Pittsburgh area and bought his first house, his father, Don Seymour, told Pittsburgh's Action 4 News. His friends told the TV station that Seymour didn't drink and was the designated driver the night he was punched.
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.