A man accused of punching a Clinton lawyer who died several hours later has been sentenced to 72 months in the Arkansas Department of Correction.
Rosendo Meek, 28, pleaded no contest on May 30 to battery-second degree, a Class D felony, and criminal trespass. Circuit Judge Charles E. Clawson accepted Meek’s plea.
Meek originally had been charged with manslaughter, a Class C felony, in the May 3, 2012, death of Brett Blakney.
Meek was accused of punching Blakney outside Blakney’s Black Dog Grill in downtown Clinton. Blakney, according to reports, struck his head on the sidewalk. He was taken to the emergency room of Ozark Health Medical Center where he died several hours later.
According to a police report at the time of the incident, Blakney approached a group of men who were being loud outside the restaurant and told them to "chill out" or leave, according to witnesses. Meek, who had previously been banned from the restaurant, then punched Blakney, a witness said.
Clinton Police Officer Eric Koonce reported that Blakney was conscious at the hospital and was able to identify a photo of Meek.
Controversy surrounded Blakney’s death as questions arose as to whether Blakney should have been transported to a Little Rock hospital and whether an ambulance was available to take him had the order from the ER ever been given.
A board was set up to look into the incident and implement changes to the county’s requirements for ambulance services. Southern Paramedic Services was again chosen to work in the county.
Meek will be credited with 97 days in jail when he begins his sentence. He was released after his sentencing and was ordered to turn himself in on June 6.
More than a year after the death of its owner, the Black Dog Grill’s sign remains but the building stands empty.