Deadly fight on Strip ends with manslaughter deal

It wasn’t the punch that killed Michael Burtosky on the Strip.

It was the fall to the ground.

Burtosky, a homeless man, was fatally injured after a scuffle over a woman with Joseph Gilbert Hyde on the bridge connecting the MGM Grand and New York-New York on Sept. 14.

Earlier this week, Hyde pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter as the 54-year-old was set to stand trial. As part of a plea deal, Clark County prosecutors agreed to drop a murder charge against Hyde for Burtosky’s death.

Authorities said Burtosky, 54, appeared to be drunk when he got into an argument with Hyde who then punched Burtosky in the head and shoved him to the ground.

As Burtosky stumbled back, he hit his head on either an escalator or the concrete, Las Vegas police said. He died from blunt force trauma to the head three days later.

Hyde fled to Flagstaff, Ariz., but was arrested in November.

A sentencing hearing was set for April 7 before District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez. Hyde remained held at the Clark County Detention Center on $25,000 bail.

This is the second punch that has turned deadly on the Strip in recent years.

Florida teacher Benjamin Hawkins served three months in jail last year as part of five years of probation for the death of a Utah man he punched at O’Shea’s casino in 2011. A jury had convicted Hawkins of involuntary manslaughter for the death of John Massie.

Hawkins, who is black, said he struck Massie at O’Shea’s casino July 6, 2011, after he perceived Massie, a 46-year-old white man from Utah, as a threat because of race-based comments he made towards the teacher.

The back of Massie’s head slammed into the floor, causing his death.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review journal.com or 702-380-1039.