All it took to kill Brian Euston was a single punch. That's the assertion that Jackson County Prosecutor Jim Kanatzar made Thursday morning when he announced that Stanford C. Griswold had been charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter in Euston's October death.
Euston, 24, was discovered at Westport Road and Mill Street around bar closing time on October 10. He suffered a severe head injury, but initially the cause of death was a mystery, with no witnesses coming forward. He died at Truman Medical Center two days later.
Court documents outlining the charge finally piece together details about what authorities believe happened. See video of Kanatzar announcing the charges after the jump.
Two witnesses told police that they were standing outside of
America's Pub, when Euston -- whose blood alcohol level was .387, more
than four times the legal limit to drive -- approached. Euston began
bothering people outside of the bar and "getting in their faces" one
witness said. The witnesses said they urged Euston to leave, but he
refused. Griswold became annoyed and allegedly then threatened to knock
Euston out. When Euston wouldn't leave Griswold and his girlfriend
alone, one witness said, Griswold struck Euston once, and quickly walked
away into the mass-bar exodus with his girlfriend. When Westport Public
Safety officers arrived on the scene, Euston was bleeding from his
mouth, and he was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with
severe head injuries. He died October 12.
On Thursday, Kanatzar, with Euston's parents by his side, said the
charge was manslaughter rather than murder because there was no evidence
that Griswold intended to kill Euston. If convicted, Griswold faces one to seven years in prison.
Kanatzar said Euston's extreme level of intoxication had nothing to
do with the case.
"It's not relevant from a criminal culpability standpoint," he said.
When Euston's mother, Kathy, was asked if she was surprised by her son's
high level of drunkenness, she responded frankly. "You know, I
was 24 years old once in Westport. I never had my blood alcohol
checked," she said.
The story has been a cyclone of controversy since the death was ruled a homicide in early December. The massive amount of ink and TV time spent covering and
speculating about Euston's death sparked endless angry debate about why the case was a magnet for
reporters, while other unsolved homicides, notably with nonwhite victims, garnered little coverage.
But, Kanatzar speculated, it was precisely the public's and the media's fixation that broke the case open. He said neither
Westport security footage nor a $36,000 reward fund played a part in getting the witnesses to talk.
"I think it's safe to say that the surveilence tape was not significant
in us coming to these charges today," Kanatzar said. "There's no doubt in my mind that the
media attention this case got helped us to have those people come
forward," he said.