Man not guilty in wrestling death

Joseph LaBoard

A jury took a little more than an hour to find 58-year-old Joseph LaBoard not guilty of involuntary manslaughter Wednesday in his friend's 2008 death.

LaBoard and 50-year-old Larry Matthews wrestled outside a home on Spence Drive on Johns Island on Dec. 26, 2008. Matthews stopped breathing and died soon after at Medical University Hospital.

Authorities originally charged LaBoard with murder, but on Wednesday, the jury deliberated on whether to find him guilty of the lesser charge. LaBoard knew Matthews for 14 years and considered him a friend, he testified Tuesday.

Matthews told LaBoard he wanted to fight that day and then provoked him until LaBoard put Matthews in a "full nelson" wrestling hold, LaBoard said in court. The argument began, police said, after Matthews poured beer on LaBoard.

The men wound up on the ground, and LaBoard climbed on top of Matthews and held him down, according to police. LaBoard testified that he released his grip when Matthews stopped breathing and that he attempted CPR.

LaBoard's trial began Tuesday, and arguments ended the same afternoon with his testimony. LaBoard testified that the day his friend died, he was merely trying to take care of himself.

Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or on Twitter at @allysonjbird.