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Man who fatally punched coworker charged with manslaughter

January 5, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A short argument between members of a construction crew ended when one man fatally punched the other in Portland, Maine in November, authorities say.

Robert Clarke, 35, of Braintree, Massachusetts, is now facing a charge of manslaughter in the death of Elliott Fama, 44, of Wilmington, Massachusetts, the Portland Press Herald reported on Monday.

Clarke and Fama traveled to Portland together with two other co-workers as part of a Massachusetts-based construction crew, according to police records. They had eaten dinner and were hanging out behind the Howard Johnson hotel in South Portland, where they were staying. Clarke and Fama exchanged pushes and punches allegedly after one refused to share a cigarette with the other.

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Clarke eventually reached around the crew’s foreman who was standing between the men and punched Fama in the head. Video footage of the fight shows Fama appeared to immediately lose consciousness and fall, the newspaper reported. After undergoing surgery and several days of treatment at a hospital, Fama died.

Clarke was initially charged with assault, but a grand jury delivered a manslaughter charge on Dec. 11, the newspaper reported. An attorney for Clarke, Daniel Wentworth, said he did not intend to hurt or kill Fama.

“These were two friends, they’d known each other about a decade,” Wentworth told the newspaper. “This was all a very tragic event, and Robert absolutely did not intend this result in any way.”

An obituary for Fama says he is survived by his wife and three step-children among many family members and friends.