Florida Man Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter At Casino

Benjamin Hawkins is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of John Massie, a 46-year-old white man from Utah. Hawkins claims he felt threatened and scared and said he was defending himself when he struck Massie at O’Shea’s casino July 6, 2011, after Massie made race-based comments towards Hawkins.

Manslaughter in Jacksonville is the unlawful killing of a human being without previous bad intent. Manslaughter may be voluntary or involuntary. Manslaughter can take many different forms, but is typically the killing of another human being without premeditation or malice. The main difference between manslaughter and murder is that manslaughter was the result of an accident, heat of passion, or some other action in which one does not have the mental state to commit a murder. 7862835-1-4.jpg

Involuntary Manslaughter, also known as negligent homicide, occurs when a death is an indirect result of recklessness or negligence. This charge is normally brought when someone commits an illegal act without intent to harm anyone, and as a result, someone is killed, such as when a person runs a red light and fatally killing the other driver.

In order to be lawfully convicted of manslaughter, the State must prove that the victim is dead and that either the accused:

– intentionally caused the victim’s death,
– intentionally secured the victim’s death, or
– the victim’s death was caused by the culpable negligence of the accused.

However, the defendant cannot be guilty of manslaughter if the killing was either justifiable or excusable homicide.

Even though manslaughter is considered one of the less serious murder charges, it is still very serious. A Jacksonville manslaughter charge is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15-years in prison. Furthermore, for the state to charge one with manslaughter, the act cannot be considered justifiable use of deadly force.

In Florida, one have a legal right to protect yourself from attacks. One may be justified in using deadly force if someone is attempting to murdered. Additionally, in Florida, if a perpetrator is committing a felony upon you in your home, the use of deadly force is justified.
When one has been charged with committing a crime like this, one has only one choice that one should feel they have to make. One should obtain an experienced Jacksonville felony-violent crimes defense attorney who has the trial experience and knowledge to properly defend one’s innocence.


The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.

Additional Source: Florida teacher, charged in death of Utah man on Strip, testifies at trial, Francis McCabe, The Las Vegas Review-Journal