Homeless Man Convicted of Manslaughter After Pushing Drunk Friend Into River as a "Game"

Are you aware of a "game" that involves splitting a bottle of vodka and pushing a drunken person who can't swim into a river?

Neither was the jury that convicted Billy Tyner of a manslaughter charge yesterday.

Defense attorneys for Tyner, 48, contended that their defendant had pushed 28-year-old Robert Lee Merritt into the New River in December 2009 as part of a "stupid game."

It didn't help Tyner's case that three sides of the story were presented to jurors in the case.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, prosecutors said Tyner pushed Merritt into the river after an argument over their vodka bottle, while defense said it was a game gone wrong, and Tyner himself later testified that Merritt accidentally fell into the river and that he tried to prevent him from falling.

A witness to the case, who was in charge of watching a yacht near where Merritt ended up in the water, said that the two were definitely arguing over a vodka bottle and that Tyner ended up pushing him in.

The witness said he came over and tried to pull Merritt out of the river while Tyner moseyed away. Merritt's body was recovered three days later, according to the Sentinel.

Tyner faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison at his August 11 sentencing.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley