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Visitor Accused of Manslaughter Pleads Not Guilty

By Tiffany DeMasters
April 15, 2021, 11:49 AM HST
* Updated April 15, 12:33 PM
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A Pennsylvania visitor accused of manslaughter pleaded not guilty in 3rd Circuit Court Thursday morning, April 15.

Benjamin Fleming was not in custody when he appeared before Judge Robert DS Kim, as he had posted bail three days earlier, which was set at $250,000. Kim maintained conditions of bail that required the 37-year-old not leave the island without first seeking approval from the court.

A jury trial has been scheduled for Aug. 3, 2021. Fleming is currently staying in South Kona.

Hawai‘i County First Deputy Prosecutor Stephen Frye requested that any arguments with regards to bail be made in writing so their office can respond.

Fleming’s lawyer, Christopher John Eggert, appeared over Zoom. He told the court he has filed arguments. A bail hearing has been scheduled for April 21.

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Fleming, facing a class A felony, which carries a punishment of up to 20 years imprisonment without the possibility of parole, was vacationing in Kailua-Kona when the reported incident occurred.

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The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania man is accused of strangling to death his vacation rental roommate, Abhishik Gupta, during a fight that took place on March 29 in Kailua-Kona.

According to Hawai‘i Police Department, the altercation between Fleming and Gupta occurred in the early morning hours at a property on Walua Road.

Police reported that Fleming dialed 911 that morning and told responders that Gupta had passed out after drinking too much alcohol. However, an investigation led officers to the conclusion that Gupta died as the result of a physical fight.

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An autopsy later determined that the cause of Gupta’s death was strangulation.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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