SNOW HILL- Homicide and manslaughter cases are few and far between in the resort area, but a handful in recent years have all followed a familiar theme of essentially a fight gone terribly wrong, including the case of a Baltimore County man sentenced to six years in prison this week for throwing a fatal blow in a fight along Coastal Highway on Memorial Day weekend.
Worcester County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Groton on Wednesday sentenced Darren Beattie, now 22, of Sparrows Point, to 10 years with all but six years suspended after he was convicted by a jury in November on a manslaughter charge. On May 29, a verbal altercation between Beattie and his friends and the victim, Ryan Shupert, 31, and his friends, which began on a city bus, turned deadly when the two groups encountered each other again. Beattie threw a single punch that struck Shupert in the head, ultimately claiming his life, in another case that has become all too familiar in the resort area in recent years.
During his statements at sentencing on Wednesday, Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby alluded to other recent senseless fights in the local area that have resulted in fatal consequences.
“This case is unusual but not necessarily unheard of in Worcester County,” he said. “Every one of these cases has proven to be senseless and absolutely preventable. While the loss of Ryan Shuppert is tragic, the preventability in this case is evident.”
Oglesby said the judge’s sentence for Beattie would not only hold the defendant responsible for his actions, but could serve to send a message to the countless others who arrive in the resort area and get into physical fights for a variety of reasons.
“We all understand no sentence will bring Ryan Shuppert back,” he said. “However, there is a very real reason for an appropriate sentence, not only for Mr. Beattie, but also for the visitors to our area who might get involved in a senseless fight with tragic consequences. We hope that will send an appropriate message to Mr. Beattie, but also send an appropriate message to the public.”
The Beattie case, like most of the manslaughter cases in the resort area in recent years, was preventable and appears to have lacked any intent to kill someone. Following Beattie’s trial in November, a juror who preferred to remain anonymous illustrated how the jury felt about one aspect of the case.
“Out of everybody in the room, nobody believed he intended to kill him,” the juror said. “Did he intend to fight him? Did he throw the punch that killed him? Yes, but there was an issue of intent. Nobody in the room believed he intended to kill him.”
It was a sentiment that could have been applied in each of the recent manslaughter cases in the resort area. The overriding message in each of the cases is simply to avoid physical confrontations, but in a resort area often fueled by alcohol consumption where large groups gather, fights are inevitable and often prove deadly.
In 2011, Cyle Morgan Walker, 26, was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of former 707 Sports Bar and Grill owner Carey Flynn in the early morning hours of October 6, 211. Walker and Flynn got into a verbal argument and the ensuing physical altercation ultimately turned deadly when Walker grabbed Flynn and threw a punch at the bar owner. Flynn remained on the ground, struggling to breathe from an internal injury only a later autopsy would reveal. A forensic pathologist determined a tear in an existing scar in the victim’s abdomen tore, causing the internal bleeding that ultimately caused his heart to fail. In that case, Walker was convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to two years, with one year suspended.
About two years later, George Nottingham, 49, was convicted by a Worcester County on all counts including manslaughter in the death of his long-time friend Michael Post outside a downtown bar on January 26, 2013. The incident 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 the ultimately caused his death.
More recently, two local men were charged with manslaughter in the beating death of a Pennsylvania man after a fight that began with a verbal altercation. Around 3 a.m. on August 24, 2014, Ocean City Police and Emergency Services responded to a hotel parking lot on 2nd Street for a reported assault. Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers found the victim, later identified as Justin Cancelliere, 37, of North Whitehall, Pa., unconscious and unresponsive.
The victim was transported to Atlantic General Hospital where he was later pronounced deceased. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled the nature of Cancelliere’s injuries as head and neck trauma and the cause of death a homicide. The investigation revealed an altercation between Caleb Ochse and Christopher Blake Kendall along with Cancelliere and his group occurred in the area of Talbot Street and Baltimore Avenue. The investigation revealed the two groups might have sparred verbally in a downtown restaurant and all left the establishment around the same time just before the altercation turned physical and ultimately deadly.