Arrest made in death of man injured in Gouverneur bar fight

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 12:16 PM EDT
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GOUVERNEUR, New York (WWNY) - A Lisbon man has been charged in the death of Andrew Johnston, the man who died following a fight at Serendipity Bar in Gouverneur on February 13.

Gouverneur police Wednesday charged 30-year-old Brian Hale with second-degree manslaughter.

Hale has known he was a suspect for more than a month.

“He’s concerned obviously. He’s charged with a C-felony. He could go to prison for up to 15 years. So that weighs on every individual,” said Edward Narrow, Hale’s defense lawyer.

The felony complaint alleges Johnston died from an injury Hale caused during a physical altercation.

It alleges Hale’s actions recklessly created an unjustifiable risk.

Police say the fight happened around 1:30 a.m. The 39-year-old Johnston was found dead at his 18 Johnstown Street apartment around 1 p.m.

No official cause of death has been released. Gouverneur police said a medical examiner determined the manner of death was a homicide.

Danylle Gerstel, Johnston’s longtime partner and the mother of his children, has said she learned he died when a broken rib lacerated his spleen.

Narrow said he expects to receive the coroner’s report and other evidence soon.

Gerstel told 7 News that Johnston was at the bar with a friend, when two men came in, suckered punched the friend, and attacked Johnston while he was playing pool.

Police reviewed surveillance video to determine who was involved.

Hale pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in Gouverneur town court following his arrest. He was released without bail under the supervision of the St. Lawrence County probation department.

“He’s happy to at least start the process today. And as we all know the defendant’s presumed to be innocent until either a jury or by plea that presumption changes,” said Narrow.

His next hearing is scheduled for June 2.

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