SNOW HILL — A West Ocean City man was found guilty of manslaughter and other charges for his role in the death of his longtime friend outside a downtown Ocean City bar in January 2013 during a friendly altercation that went terribly wrong.
After deliberating for just under an hour on Monday evening, a Worcester County Circuit Court jury returned with guilty verdicts on all counts against George Doran Nottingham, 49, of West Ocean City, including manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and affray. Nottingham was charged in January 2013 for his role in the death of longtime friend Michael Post, 39, outside the Harbor Inn in the early morning hours during what began as a friendly dispute over a swiped cell phone and ended with Nottingham swatting Post outside the door, causing him to fall on the icy, snowy sidewalk. Post suffered a fractured skull during the fall that ultimately caused his death.
The bar’s 16 high-tech video surveillance cameras captured the entire incident from start to finish and the video and still images captured during the altercation painted a clear picture of what happened that fateful night. During the trial, no one disputed Nottingham struck Post, causing him to fall and ultimately fracture his skull. What was in dispute, however, was who was the primary aggressor.
The state portrayed Nottingham as an angry, agitated aggressor who went outside looking for Post several minutes after the dispute had calmed down, while the defense portrayed Post as the main aggressor, who allegedly waited outside for Nottingham to come out. The defense claimed Nottingham went outside only after he believed Post was gone and the incident was over, only to find Post waiting for him outside the bar’s front door. Through both versions runs a thread of truth, but in the end, the video images of Nottingham striking Post and causing him to fall and strike his head could not be overcome and the jury returned guilty verdicts across the board after deliberating for about 50 minutes on Monday.
Retired Judge Dale Cathell, who presided over the case, ordered a pre-sentence investigation and Nottingham will likely be sentenced later this summer or early fall.
This week’s trial was the second time the state tried the case against Nottingham with last August’s trial ending with a hung jury.
For more details about the incident, the trial and the verdicts, see Friday’s print and online editions of The Dispatch.