New Trial Ordered in Iowa Fisticuffs That Led to Death
Boys will be boys. A little good-natured ribbing. Some friendly fisticuffs. It's all fun and games until the person on the receiving end of the punch dies. That happened in July 2017 when, according to the Des Moines Register, 20-year-old Jacob Henkelman allegedly "demanded" another man punch him at a party, and Henkelman later died. According to the Register:
Henkelman, 20, of Carlisle died in July 2017 after approaching an acquaintance, then-19-year-old Darby Bean, and asking Bean to punch him in the face. Bean obliged. The punch caused Henkelman to strike his head on a concrete floor.
Henkelman died seven days later and Bean pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. But in 2021 a civil lawsuit was filed by the Henkelman family.
Who should be at fault, the puncher or the punchee? Since only one side is obviously known, it was left up to a jury.
What resulted was the jury having to decide the greater share of fault between Henkelman's negligence in drunkenly asking for the punch and Bean's acting on it. They weighed testimony by witnesses who agreed Bean was hesitant but went along with it, throwing what they called a weak punch. A weak punch that caused Henkelman to lose balance and later die. It was found the greater fault lay with Henkelman.
A Warren County jury declined to award damages to Henkelman's family at that time, finding that Henkelman was more at fault for his own death than Bean. On October 19 that verdict was overturned, with the judge citing incorrect instructions to the jury.
The date of the new trial is not known at this time.