Charges have been bound to the Grand Jury against two men in the beating of a third man just outside a karaoke bar on Market Street.
Prosecutor Dave Denny said Jack Payne and Joseph Brian Allen were justified in getting 56-year-old Russell Miller away from a woman he had collared, but not in a follow-up beating.
He said, "We cannot allow the drunken revelers in a bar to determine who deserves a beating. That would mean we would have bar justice and not court justice."
Defense attorney Bryan Hoss had contended that Miller "got everything he deserved" after earlier taunting a 67-year-old longtime foe inside Sing It or Wing It and than agitating the man's step-son, Allen.
Police Officer Daniel Russell said he decided to bring charges of aggravated assault after finally being able to view videotape of the Oct. 23 incident. The video, which shows almost the entire incident, was shown several times during the two-hour court hearing.
The officer said a third man, Michael Brown, was allegedly involved at the start of the fight. He said charges may still be brought against Brown, noting that Miller has hired a private investigator to help.
The officer said the video shows that after Melissa Payne, wife of Jack Payne, had gotten loose from Miller's grasp, that Miller was hit repeatedly in the head by Allen and Payne as well as being kicked by Payne while he was down.
Miller, who was at the bar with girl friend Christie Murphy, admitted going over to Junior King and calling him a vile name. He said, "We have disrespected each other for a long time."
Allen said Miller also called him names and made gestures toward him after accosting his step-father. He said he told Miller that his step-father recently had a stroke and couldn't fight back. Allen, 36, said he had a stroke himself a short time after the incident.
Allen said he tried to diffuse the situation by buying a round of drinks for everyone, but it didn't work.
He said he followed Miller out the door and then saw Miller intervening in a shoving match between Ms. Payne and the Miller girl friend. He and other defense witnesses said Miller came up from behind and lifted Ms. Payne up after getting a grasp around her neck. Allen, who said he had never been in trouble before - "not even in the principal's office" - said he then started hitting Miller to get him to let go.
At that time, Ms. Allen and Jack Payne were up on the stage singing a Kenny Chesney song. But Payne cut the tune short and hurried out when the action started.
The beating continued out the door with Miller lying on the sidewalk sustaining repeated blows.
Attorney Hoss said of Miller, "He's the problem. He wanted to start a fight."
Prosecutor Denny said not many bar fights make it to court "because we don't have it on video. This one we can view almost all of it."
He said the victim "was severely beaten while he was defenseless."
Miller said he had a broken nose, facial bruising and bruised ribs. He said his ACL was torn during the melee and he had to have surgery. He said, "Afterward for three or four weeks I could barely get out of a chair."
Melissa Payne, who said she may have had five drinks, was charged that evening with disorderly conduct and public drunk when she declined to follow an officer's directive to sit down on the curb.
Prosecutor Denny noted that it was the women fighting that got it all started.
Judge Shattuck said, "It would have been better if they had just let the women settle it."
He added, "They should have been there just to have a good time. Instead, we've got adults acting like five-year-olds."