Two Men In Court Accused Of Beating Man To Death - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Two Accused Of Beating Man To Death Head To Trial

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Two men accused of beating another man to death will head to trial. 

Austin Smith and Donald Suttle Junior were originally charged with involuntary manslaughter, but after the prosecution asked for tougher charges, the judge agreed. The men now face second degree murder charges.

"He was in a very deep coma, he needed to be put on a breathing machine for breathing support," said Dr. Mohamed Elnabtity, neurosurgeon.

Witnesses wrapped up testimony Tuesday in the case against Austin Smith of Grand Ledge and Donald Suttle Junior of Lansing. The two men are accused of beating Travis Peterson outside of Brannigan Brothers in downtown Lansing on New Year's day.

One witness compared it to a pack of wolves attacking Peterson like a piece of meat.

Peterson died days later, after spending several days in the hospital in critical condition.

Smith's attorney says he was disappointed with the judge's decision to bind the case over to trial in Ingham County Circuit Court on second degree murder charges.

"I think the evidence when taken in context it total shows a much different incident that occurred on that night," said Andrew Abood, Austin Smith's defense attorney. 

However, Suttle's defense attorney wasn't surprised.

"In the grand scheme of things, this isn't unexpected, but unfortunately, but I do think the facts of the case as they continue to come out continue to get better and better certainly in regard to my client," said Patrick Crowley, defense attorney.

Prosecutor Bill Crino says the higher charge was necessary based on the testimony from witnesses and the medical providers.

"We're very pleased with the judge's decision today and we think the facts supported unequivocally," said Crino, assistant prosecutor, Ingham County.

The prosecutor spoke on behalf of Peterson's family.

"The family is having a hard time of course, it was a very tragic loss for them. I think they're very pleased with what happened here today," said Crino.

If convicted of 2nd degree murder, Suttle and Smith could spend up to life in prison. They're expected back in court at the end of this month.

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