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Pennsylvania man acquitted of manslaughter of friend on Big Island

HONOLULU — A Pittsburgh man who was charged with manslaughter in the strangulation death of a college buddy he was vacationing with in Hawaiʻi was found not guilty by a jury.

Jurors reached their verdict last week after a trial on the Big Island, where Benjamin Fleming was vacationing with two friends he knew since attending Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

They were staying at a vacation rental in Kailua-Kona last year when a night out drinking ended in a deadly fight.

Fleming was charged with manslaughter after an autopsy showed that Abhishek Gupta of Pittsburgh was strangled. Authorities said an argument between the men turned physical.

“I emphasized throughout the trial that Mr. Gupta’s death was undoubtedly a tragedy, but it was not a crime. Thankfully, the jury agreed, and we appreciate their service,” Fleming's attorney, Thomas Otake, said in an email Monday. “While Ben and I are surely relieved, we remain mindful of the loss experienced by the Gupta family.”

Prosecutors didn't immediately return a message seeking comment on Thursday's verdict.

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