A Miller County jury imposed a $10,000 fine, the maximum allowed, after finding a man guilty of manslaughter in connection with an August 2015 confrontation at the Electric Cowboy in Texarkana, Ark., but did not order any prison time.
The jury of nine men and three women deliberated for several hours before finding Taylor Caz Rogers, 27, guilty of causing the death of Jon Paul Russell, 32. Russell hit his head on a bar table and the concrete dance floor after Rogers punched him in the jaw Aug. 29, 2015. About two weeks later, Russell died of a traumatic brain injury.
Marc Smith, a Texarkana neurosurgeon, testified Thursday that a fracture to Russell’s skull near the base of his brain made his body incapable of regulating itself. Smith said Russell’s injury was consistent with an unsupported fall when unconsciousness occurs while a person is standing.
Rogers’ defense attorney, Mickey Buchanan of Ashdown, Ark., argued that Rogers was acting in defense of himself and his smaller, 5’7 buddy, Taylor Rosen, when he landed a blow to Russell’s jaw. Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys Connie Mitchell and Kristian Robertson argued that Rogers turned a verbal confrontation which had already been diffused by bar staff into a deadly physical encounter.
“Boys, booze and women. Like I told you, never a good combination,” Mitchell said in closing arguments. “This defendant injected himself into the situation. It wasn’t warranted. He was the problem.”
Robertson questioned Rogers at length about whether he was truly afraid that Russell, who was not bigger than Rogers, was a physical threat to him or Rosen.
“You weren’t scared were you? You attacked him, didn’t you,” Robertson asked. “You put yourself in a situation you acknowledge had the attention of four bouncers, didn’t you? You were just trying to be the big man?”
Witnesses, including Rogers, testified that at least four bouncers were nearby when Russell confronted Rogers’ friend, Taylor Rosen, about a woman. Bouncer Lennon Davis had the situation under control and the men were about to walk away from each other when Rogers threw a fist over Davis’ shoulder which landed on Russell’s left jaw.
Davis immediately reached up his hands and grabbed Rogers, escorting him out of the club. In the parking lot, Rogers had another physical confrontation, witnesses testified.
Rogers is now a convicted felon and must pay a $10,000 fine to the State of Arkansas.