BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
A single punch thrown in March of last year could land a Bakersfield man behind bars for 18 years.
Travis Michael Lamb, 28, was found guilty Tuesday of charges including involuntary manslaughter in connection with a punch that knocked a man to the ground and caused injuries leading to a coma and, ultimately, death. Lamb also has a prior felony conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, which will be taken into consideration at his April 10 sentencing.
Eighteen years would be the maximum Lamb faces but the judge could sentence him to a lesser term.
Deputy District Attorney William Schlaerth said Wednesday the jury's verdict was appropriate. He said Lamb has expressed remorse for what happened.
Deputies said they responded at 3:20 p.m. March 23 to the Vons shopping center parking lot at 5360 Olive Drive for a report of an assault. They found Richard Joseph Gilroy, 39, unconscious in the parking lot, and witnesses reported Lamb had punched him in the face.
Schlaerth said Lamb had been driving his pickup in front of the Vons. A man in the parking lot saw Lamb was on his cellphone and thought he was driving either too fast or too slow.
The man smacked the back of Lamb's truck with his hand, and Lamb turned his truck around and pulled up to the Jeep the man was walking toward. Schlaerth said Lamb began arguing with the man.
Gilroy, the man's friend, walked over in his defense. Gilroy and Lamb continued arguing. Lamb became further incensed when Gilroy touched his truck.
Schlaerth said Lamb punched Gilroy on the left side of his face, breaking the portion of his skull where the nasal bone meets the eye socket and sending him crashing to the ground.
Gilroy's head struck the pavement, causing hemorrhaging that immediately sent him into a coma. He died at Kern Medical Center on April 5.
The jury acquitted Lamb of voluntary manslaughter, instead finding him guilty of the lesser crime of involuntary manslaughter. They also found him guilty of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury.
Lamb's attorney, Richard Terry, could not be reached for comment.