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Visitor Accused of Manslaughter Allowed to Return to US Mainland

By Tiffany DeMasters
April 21, 2021, 4:34 PM HST
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Benjamin Fleming
Benjamin Fleming. PC: HPD

A Pennsylvania visitor facing a manslaughter charge will return home to the US mainland.

On Wednesday, April 21, 3rd Circuit Court Judge Robert DS Kim granted Benjamin Fleming’s request to return home while he awaits trial on the felony charge. However, he must be present for the pretrial conference, any evidentiary hearings and be in the state two weeks prior to the scheduled jury trial on Aug. 3.

As a matter of courtesy, Kim said, he would set aside days for evidentiary hearings, if needed, on June 7 and July 26.

“If he doesn’t come back for the hearings scheduled, I’ll issue a bench warrant, no bail,” Kim stated.

Fleming’s attorney Christopher J. Eggert informed the court he didn’t anticipate being ready for trial by Aug. 3.

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Fleming was ordered to sign an extradition waiver, which he provided to the Hawai‘i County prosecutor’s office Wednesday morning. Kim also ordered Fleming to surrender his passport and not leave the United States without permission from the court.

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Since the 37-year-old is a member of the US National Guard, the judge ordered that Fleming not own, use or possess any firearms outside of his military training.

While Fleming is not allowed to possess a firearm within the state of Hawai‘i, Murray said, he was unaware of what restrictions apply to the defendant outside of Hawai‘i jurisdiction while under indictment in a felony case.

“I don’t know where he’s doing his training or what laws apply in that area,” Murray said of Fleming. “I assume the military would be appraised to that law so they didn’t put him in that position.”

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Eggert also requested that Fleming’s bail be reduced from $250,000 to $100,000, noting the financial hardship on his client and his family. Fleming’s mother posted half of the bail and A-1 Bonds has given the family 45 days to come up with the other half.

Kim denied the request, saying bail has been posted and it’s not a concern of the court.

Fleming pleaded not guilty on April 15 after his arrest for allegedly strangling 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.

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

Fleming is facing a class A felony offense, which carries a punishment of up to 20 years imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

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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