Howard Randolph Pleads Guilty to Killing Rayshawn Hailstock with a Single Punch

Howard Randolph pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of involuntary manslaughter in connection to the June 30, 2013 fist fight that led to Rayshawn Hailstock’s death.

Randolph, 33, admitted to confronting Hailstock and punching him once, breaking his jaw in two places and fracturing the hyoid bone in his neck. Hailsotck, 21, fell forward and hit his head but medical examiners said the punch is what caused his death, according to prosecutors.

During a court hearing in March, defense attorney Katerina Semynova argued Randolph’s charges should be reduced to simple assault, because Hailstock threw the first punch. At today’s hearing, Seminova added that Hailstock had instigated three verbal altercations with Randolph prior to this incident.

According to prosecutors Hailstock’s girlfriend at the time of the incident had been in a relationship with Randolph in 2010, and Randolph was upset that Hailstock had mistreated her.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Adrienne Dedjinou argued both men willingly entered into “mutual combat” on June 30, 2013 and that Randolph first approached Hailstock causing the altercation that night.

Hailstock was found laying unconscious on the sidewalk in the 2300 block of Alabama Avenue Southeast around 8:30 p.m. He was suffering from blunt impact injuries to the head and neck. He later died at the hospital from those injuries.

During Thursday’s hearing Randolph waived his right to a trial and agreed to the factual proffer read by Dedjinou.

According to prosecutors, a person driving on Alabama Avenue Southeast saw Randolph approach Hailstock who was waiting at a bus stop.

Prosecutors said the witness saw the men arguing as they approached each other and put up their fists to fight.

As part of his plea agreement Randolph was offered a six to 24 month sentence, but Judge Russell Canan can reduce the time to be served as probation or split the sentence between probation and jail time. The maximum sentence for a charge of voluntary manslaughter is 30 years in prison.

Randolph’s father, Howard Anderson, said he supports his son’s decision to take the plea, but feels Randolph would have had a good chance in trial claiming self defense.

He did everything possible to avoid the situation, but when someone swings at you, you have to defend yourself,” Anderson said.

Randolph remains in custody without bond awaiting his sentence scheduled for July 18, at 11:00 a.m., in front of Judge Canan.

Plea documents have been added to this post.

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