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Union hall fight brings involuntary manslaughter charge

Updated: September 17, 2014 6:03AM



A Griffith man has been charged in Lake Superior Court in the death of a 28-year-old Lake Village man who was found unresponsive at work the morning after being involved in a fight.

Eric Lee Yost, 41, of the 800 block of North Oakwood Street, is charged with aggravated battery, battery resulting in serious bodily injury and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Jacob Oxley.

Court records indicate that Yost and Oxley were involved in an altercation on Dec. 12 at the Operating Engineers Hall, 2193 W. 84th Place, Merrillville, and that Yost was the initial aggressor when he punched Oxley twice in the face. Oxley’s head snapped back and struck a brick wall, court records state. The fight was caught on video surveillance.

The next morning, Oxley was found slumped over his pay loader at ArcelorMittal Steel in East Chicago. He was taken to St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, where he was pronounced dead at 9:41 a.m.

Yost told police he was at a union meeting on the evening of Dec. 12 and saw Oxley drinking a clear liquid from a jar. One of Yost’s friends identified the liquid as strawberry moonshine. Yost later approached Oxley and asked him if he could check out the liquid. Oxley was amicable and handed the jar to him, but when Yost tipped the jar to his face to smell the liquid, Oxley pushed the jar at him, causing the liquid to slosh. The same thing happened again when Yost went to smell the liquid.

After the meeting ended, one of Yost’s friends pointed out that Oxley was standing in the hall foyer. Yost told police he felt Oxley was waiting for him and went to the foyer. He admitted he punched Oxley first, court records state.

An autopsy at the Lake County Coroner’s office showed that Oxley had swelling and bleeding on the brain and found the death was a homicide caused by extensive head injuries from blunt force trauma.



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