SAN DIEGO – A verdict was reached Tuesday in the trial of a man accused of punching a taxicab passenger who later died.
Sam Bonsu is charged with involuntary manslaughter and assault in the May 2008 death of Nathaniel “Nat” Ward. The verdict is scheduled to be read Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.
Bonsu was angry and looking for a fight, a prosecutor told a jury during closing arguments in the defendant's trial Tuesday morning. Bonsu slightly shook his head as he heard prosecutor Corrine Miesfeld tell jurors the defendant attacked the victim and his friends in Pacific Beach without provocation.
“He followed them. He stopped. He yelled at them and he went up to them,” Miesfeld said. “Does this sound like a person who is scared?”
Gary Gibson, Bonsu's defense attorney, said the punches Bonsu delivered to Ward's temple and to the face of Colin Costanzo, Ward's friend, were done in self-defense.
“Alcohol fueled this confrontation, not a 35-year-old sober man. The prosecution's evidence is insufficient because the witnesses are lying to you,” Gibson told the panel.
Authorities said Ward, 25, and three friends had been drinking and celebrating another friend's graduation May 23. They partied until the early hours of May 24 at the Pacific Beach Bar and Grill on Garnet Avenue.
The group, including Ward, took a cab home to an apartment on Bond Street, near Grand Avenue, about 2 a.m.
Miesfeld said a gray Scion driven by Bonsu pulled out in front of the group's taxi and nearly collided with the cab.
She said Bonsu then confronted the passengers in the cab as they were paying the fare outside one of the men's apartment. Ward and Costanzo were each struck once.
Miesfeld said the blow to Ward's temple caused him to fall to the ground and left him unconscious. He was hospitalized and released, but days later he slipped into a coma and was declared brain dead May 29.