Murder charges dropped for 2 men accused in beating death

Bryan Stevenson (source: WLWT-TV)
Bryan Stevenson (source: WLWT-TV)

Louisville, KY - By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Murder charges have been dropped against two of the four men who were accused of killing a 26-year-old man outside Barbara Lee's Kitchen on Brownsboro Road.

The deadly beating happened Memorial weekend. 26-year-old Bryan Stevenson was in Louisville for a softball tournament. According to court records and arrest reports, the incident started as an argument over a softball game at the restaurant. The men continued arguing outside the restaurant, and that's where, police say, the suspects beat Stevenson so severely that he died from his injuries.

Donald Hays, David Pryor, Justin Werner and William Schindler were charged with murder and assault after Stevenson's beating death in the early morning hours of May 30.

Nearly four months later, in court Friday morning, Donald Hays pleaded guilty to assault second and trafficking a controlled substance charges, while the murder charge against him and persistent felon charge was dismissed. "At this time the defendant wishes to withdraw his previous plea of not guilty and enter a guilty on reliance of that offer," Hays Attorney, Steven Romines said in court.

Hays cut a deal with the Commonwealth. His attorney said the assault charge refers to Stevenson's friend, not Stevenson. "During the altercation defendant Hays struck Ryan Hayes multiple times, causing major injuries including broken bones to the face," Judge Mitch Perry read documents in court.

Hays was ordered not to contact anyone involved in the case. Hays' attorney said if he violates his probation, he will face a five year sentence. Hays agreed to testify against Justin Werner. "Defendant Hays witnessed Defendant Werner stomping Stevenson's head numerous times. Stevenson was on the ground and not responsive while he stomped on his head," Judge Perry read.

Also in court Friday morning, the prosecution dropped assault and murder charges against William Schindler. "He was certainly present at Barbara Lee's and was with the co-defendants. It is the Commonwealth's belief, based on the evidence that he was not actually involved in the fight," the prosecution said.

According to the Commonwealth, drug charges against Schindler remain. Schindler and Hays were released on their own recognizance.

Justin Werner and David Pryor still face murder charges in this case. In court this morning, Werner's attorney requested a suppression hearing for January. According to the Commonwealth, he wants statements and evidence taken from Werner's apartment thrown out. Werner's attorney also requested to preserve a sample of Stevenson's blood.

Stevenson was on the baseball team at Eastern Kentucky University. He graduated in 2005.

Stevenson lived in Ohio and played softball for a team in northern Kentucky called the Good Guys. He had been in Louisville for a tournament.

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