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Following a fight at an Indian Head house party in July 2012 that led to the loss of one man’s life, his assailant was found guilty of manslaughter last week.

Marco Deangelo Sawyer, a 23-year-old Waldorf man, was convicted of manslaughter, second-degree assault and affray for his role in the events that led to the death of 18-year-old Cheltenham resident Jerry Adam Gilchrist. Sawyer and another, Mechanicsville resident Kyrel Antonio Stewart, 20, simultaneously punched Gilchrist in the head during a fight at that party, according to court testimony.

At that moment, witness Jasmine Thomas testified, Gilchrist’s head snapped back and his arms flailed as he fell to the ground. The state medical examiner’s resulting investigation found that Gilchrist’s head snapping back in that manner caused an internal hemorrhage that killed him almost instantly.

In her closing statement, Charles County Deputy State’s Attorney Karen Piper walked the jury back through the testimony heard in trial, and the party’s slow devolution into madness.

“The defendant’s one punch is what you have to decide about with regard to this case. Did the defendant hit Jerry Gilchrist, and did that cause his death? I submit that the evidence supports both,” Piper said.“[Gilchrist] is already dead at the party, and it’s crucial to understand that.”

“In the real sense this is the most important day of [Sawyer’s] life,” said Michael Beach, Sawyer’s defense attorney. “The wrong person has been accused of something he didn’t do, and when that happens, it tends to reveal other problems in the state’s case. ... Bad witnesses lead to bad science and bad testimony.”

Beach took particular issue with Thomas’ testimony, as he said she was “drunk, high and covering for her brother” who was also at the party and engaged in the rowdiness. Despite Thomas’ close relationship with the deceased, Beach asserted that her state at the time rendered her testimony suspect. That, in turn, called into question everything else.

“It’s a house of cards. It starts with Jasmine and all her motives, and it becomes the foundation for the medical examiner,” Beach said. “If you don’t believe her beyond a reasonable doubt, then it all falls apart. That gentleman there is innocent.”

Speaking on Monday, Charles County State’s Attorney Anthony B. Covington (D) said he was satisfied with the outcome in the Sawyer trial.

“Obviously we’re pleased with the verdict,” Covington said. “Cases like this are cautionary tales. When you engage in violence, you never know what is going to happen. ... A poor child gets hit and lost his life. Violence begets nothing. It’s just tragic the whole way around.”

Sawyer is scheduled for sentencing March 19 before Circuit Court Judge Amy Bragunier.

lrenner@somdnews.com