Sharpnack found guilty of aggravated assault



Posted on July 15, 2013 at 5:45 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 15 at 5:45 PM

AUSTIN -- After nearly 15 hours of deliberations, Travis County jurors found Preston Sharpnack guilty of aggravated assault in the punching death of an Austin architect on Monday.

"In all honesty I don't believe my grandson is guilty of intentionally killing that man, he did not intentionally cause that man's death," said Amelia Braden, Sharpnack's grandmother.

Austin police say last year on Labor Day weekend, Sharpnack, 22, punched Matt Casey while panhandling near 6th Street. When Casey fell after the punch, he hit his head and died.

"It's important to hold the person accountable for the harm they do," said Asst. District Attorney Allison Whetzel.

During the trial, lawyers argued whether to include the evidence that Casey had been banned from Star Bar in downtown Austin for a similar incident.

Jurors listened to testimony from Austin Police Department detectives who say after an initial assault by Sharpnack's girlfriend, which was captured on camera, Casey and a friend walked away from 6th Street toward 7th, where they found the homeless couple a second time.

That's also the place Casey's body was found lying on the ground.

Detectives said they don't believe Casey was looking to pick a fight. They believe he and his friend were discussing fantasy football seconds after the first punch.

The jury was to decide whether Sharpnack assaulted Casey or if it was self defense. 

Whetzel says the Casey family has been waiting for resolution.

"They seemed relieved. Some of them seemed a little teary. This has been a long emotional experience for them," she said.

"We will go to the appelate court and appeal this. It's not fair. The death was definitely not intention. I wish to od it hadn't happened," Braden said.

A sentence will be given to Sharpnack at a later date. He already turned down an eight-year plea agreement.