For the sake of those readers who might not know the history, I thought I’d run the media accounts of the trial from exactly on year ago. On day one, it is clear that May sucker-punched Ryan when he wasn’t looking and Vantrease repeatedly kicked him in the head “like punting a football”.
The defense tried, unsuccessfully, to paint it as a mutual fight. But, it was clearly an attack as proven in video and testimony. Completely one-sided. Appearently, the worse Ryan might have done is said “Phillies suck”, and that’s not entirely sure. Anyhow, you can be the judge of who did what…
It took Monongalia County prosecutors and defense attorneys most of Tuesday to choose a 12-member jury to hear a highly publicized beating case involving former WVU students.
Jonathan May, 18, and Austin Vantrease, 18 of Newark, Delaware are charged with malicious assault for the 2009 beating of fellow student Ryan Diviney who remains in a vegatative state because of a severe head injury suffered in the beating.
The jury heard opening statements Wednesday morning followed by the first prosecution witnesses.
Prosecutors say the three were arguing over the Yankees-Phillies World Series in the parking lot of the Willey Street Dairy Mart near downtown Morgantown last November when a fight broke out. Diviney and his friends were headed to the convenience store to get something to eat while the others were heading home for the night from a party.
During the opening statements assistant prosecutor Peri DeChristopher described the event as “pointless, senseless and ridiculous.” She went on to say that Vantrease and May attacked Diviney while he was retreating with one of them hitting Diviney so hard that he knocked him to the ground with his feet flailing into the air and that the other kicked him in the head while he lay unconcious on the ground.
The defense says the young men had no intent to permanantly harm Diviney and that it was a mutual fight. May’s attorney Ray Yackel told jurors that, “as tragic as it wsa that night or as tragic as it continues to be it was a fight between young men who were all drinking on a football Friday in Morgantown. It was a stupid and senseless fight, but no one meant for this to happen.”
Yackel went on to tell the jury that May will testify in his own defense and that he hit Diviney because he believed Diviney was going after Vantrease.
The first police officer to arrive on the scene testified Wednesday morning that Diviney was unresponsive, lying on his side with blood coming from his mouth and ear when he arrived on the scene.
A WVU student living in Arnold Hall across the street testified that he saw the whole fight and that one man threw Diviney to the ground knocking him out and then kicked him several times while he was lying motionless on the ground. he described the final kick to the head as “brutal and unnecessary.”
Diviney suffered a severe head injury that could have either been caused by hitting his head on a metal plate in the parking lot or from a kick to the head.
Currently Diviney is in a New Jersey Hospital being treated for injury-related pneumonia and silent seizures. He also has a significant blood clot in his leg according to the website Ryan’s Rally which is dedicated to keeping friends and others updated on his condition.
Vantrease and May’s trial is expected to last the rest of the week.
Note: Please help me remember everything you can about the day.
Ken, I just realized my entire post to this is gone?? Nothing inappropriate so I will guess it is an error on the page. I basically recapped devouring any bit of news about the trial from Facebook, WBOY and Dave Small’s updates. July 19th will always be important to me, 1st it is my birthday, 2nd it is the day May and Vantrease were found guilty. Best present I have ever received. Much love~
I look around for that post (in spam and trash) but it wasn’t there. I’m not sure what happened.
This is all very hard for me… Ken, I’m certain as painful as it is for me, it pales greatly to how painfully hard it is for you and Kari to relive, being at the hearing. For Sue, to be in NJ with Ryan at that point in time must have been excruciating for her to endure. Especially since things for Ryan at that point in time was so questionable. The strength that the 3 of you, no make that the 4 of you (I’m counting Ryan in there too because he was fighting the biggest battle of all at that time…the battle to hold on to survive) during the trial was greater than I have ever witnessed. You are all the most amazing, beautifully loving, and the best family I have ever known. Ryan is so blessed to have you as his family. We love you Ryan, continually praying for you and your most precious and exceptional caregivers….Mom, Dad and Kari.
Much love and prayers to you today, Peggie
Street Dairy Mart from his window directly across the street. He testified that Ryan was hit so hard (I belive he described as being clotheslined) by what turned out to be Jon May that Ryan’s feet came out from under him, went up into the air and that he went down to the ground with such great force that he could hear the loud thud of Ryan’s head hitting the ground. He also testified to seeing Brian get hit and knocked to the ground unconscious…by what turned out to be Vantrese…who then proceeded to go over to where Ryan was laying on the ground also unconscious and proceed to kick him in the head. He then testified about what I’ll call “the gang” ….Vantrese, May, the other 3 boys and 2 girls that were with them did from there. The boys fled…running. One of the girls, staggering around the parking lot, but aware enough to realize the bad state that Ryan was in and that he needed help, was yelling at what was likely Vantrese that she was a lifeguard, that this was bad and that he needed help. The witness commented that this girl appeared to be in no condition to be able to do anything useful. The young man in the window had called 911. We all watched the video of the whole event captured on the surveillance camera at the dairy mart. For me, it was the first time. Tears welled up in my eyes as I watched. Seeing that video and later hearing testimony as to who was wearing what…I was finally able to put some of the pieces of the puzzle together…the thug in the wide striped shirt was Austin Vantrese. He was the one responsible for badly injuring Brian, breaking his jaw in 2 places, both on the right and left side of his face with one blow which Brian never saw coming at him, sending him to the ground where he remained for several minutes…all recorded on the video. From the testimony and video, all of this happened rather quickly. Watching the video several times over and pulling everything together… in my mind I have my own theory of what probably happened there that night. As the group of 7 – “the gang” approached Ryan, Brian and Tyler, and the argument of the World Series game started, Brian recognized that the argument was getting too heated and tried to get Ryan to let it go and that they should leave. We watch as Brian joins Tyler in the foreground, the girls move to the background, and “the gang” starts dividing. Ryan starts backing up with arms open and outstretched, as at least 2 or 3 from “the gang” press forward against Ryan’s back-peddling and move him off camera. We then witness the blow Vantrese lands on Brian (with hands at his side) knocking him to the ground. Brian unfortunately recalls nothing past the punch he didn’t see coming at him. I have to think that Ryan saw Brian go down, and being the person and good man that Ryan is, when he tried to head toward Brian, Jon May sucker-punched Ryan. It’s then that we see Vantrese heading over toward Ryan’s direction and the testimony by the witnesses tell us that Vantrese kicks Ryan (already down on the ground motionless) in the head in a manner described as “punting his head like a football”.
This was what we listened to just in the morning. Then we broke for lunch. Tyler and Brian testified in the afternoon.
Ken, I remember that first day of the trial, and the evening before the trial when I met you and Kari for the first time. I went to Morgantown fighting my own demons and looking for answers to so much that made no sense. I had very little to no information at that point. Over the next few days it was kind of an unraveling of information put before me to try to make some sense out of this completely senseless night of 11/7/09…a date that we will never, ever forget. We listened to the opening statements by the prosecutor and the two defense attorneys. Each of them with their own agenda. May’s attorney trying to separate his client as much as possible from Vantrese before the jury. Likely because he knew this would be the best strategic move to get what he was paid I’m sure very handsomely to do….get his very guilty client painted to be in the best possible light that he could fashion to get his client off of the charges he was facing, or in the alternative, the least possible sentence. Vantrese’s attorney was in my opinion an idiot. He droned on and on about how he was not only a lawyer but an engineer. That he would approach this case as an engineer would…looking at all of the pieces. Like building something up and taking it down, pulling every little thing apart and examining it. And that was his painfully and mostly boring strategy throughout the trial. Again, all in an effort to get his very, very guilty client off…trying to shift the blame to his good buddy Jon May. The first witness called was the police officer who responded to the scene and saved Ryan’s life. Ryan’s white dress shirt that he was wearing his last night as his family and friends all knew him was pulled from that brown paper bag. It was identified by the police officer as the shirt Ryan was wearing when he found Ryan lying motionless on the parking lot with blood pooling in his ear. Then we heard from the next witness, the young man who was a freshman at WVU living in the dorm across the street at Arnold Hall. His attention was drawn to this by all of the commotion noise that he heard outside of his window…so loud that he could hear it over what he was watching on TV. He got up, looked out his window, took the remote and turned the program down or off and watched and listened to the whole event on the parking lot of the wiley
I’m so sorry that the day following your wedding anniversary is another; but cruel anniversary. You are blessed by each other, and your two beautiful children. You remain in my prayers daily.
You all are in my heart and in the hearts of so many. And that’s never going to change. Sending love and prayers…Paula
Another sad day, I am so sorry for you Ken and Sue. May claims he was helping Vantrease from a threat of Ryan hurting him. It’s a shame that May is not in prison now to help Vantease with any potential threats.
Jo Hobbs says
Wish you didn’t have to re-live these memories, Ken, but neither you nor any of us will ever forget… …The description of this brutal attack is more than anyone can take! People who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol have no inhibitions whatsoever! If only our young ones would pay attention to stories like Ryan’s, but it seems hopeless! We hear more stories every day– enough to make one sick! Still here and still praying.
I have used Ryan’s story to educate my teenage niece to the magnitude of decisions. My hope is that she and her friends understand how one stupid decision (like choosing to attack an individual who is trying to back away from the altercation) can alter the lives of so many.
I pray for the Diviney family every day.
Gail Doyle says
Ken,Sounds like a very rough day for you .. Just so, senseless and unnecessary ,but thank God Ryan is coming along so nicely now,and those thugs got time ( not nearly enough) They will pay some way or another .Always here waiting for Ryan to heal completely. God works wonders. Gail