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Closing arguments expected in Fla. teacher's manslaughter trial

Reported by: Michelle Velez
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Updated: 11/30/2012 7:50 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- Closing arguments are expected to start today in the trial for a Florida teacher who says he was defending himself when he punched a tourist inside O’Shea's Casino.

That single blow to the head eventually led to that man's death.

Benjamin Hawkins took the stand in his own defense on Thursday. He says he was defending himself on July 6, 2011, the night he was confronted by John Massie, a white man from Utah.

In the video, Hawkins can be seen punching Massie, knocking him out cold. Massie died 20 minutes later.

The fight started in the bathroom of O'Shea's and continued onto the casino floor.

Hawkins says he was minding his own business when Massie started taunting him about being black and wearing a yellow shirt.

He says Massie touched him several times, harassing him as he tried to go back to the casino where his wife and friends were.

On the stand Thursday, Hawkins explained why he felt threatened.

The coroner's report said Massie died from blunt force trauma to the back of his head, which happened when he hit the ground after the punch.

One of the witnesses for the prosecution -- a black man who worked with of Massie -- testified he's never known Massie to make racist comments.

After today's closing arguments, the jury will begin deliberations.

Hawkins is charged with involuntary manslaughter. He faces up to four years in prison.


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