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Mother speaks out, calls for harsher charges after son dies from punch in Ybor

Posted at 11:50 PM, Oct 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-06 11:25:35-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Following a punch and fall that left a 25-year-old dead, Tampa Police say they've arrested Justin Jasper, 32, for manslaughter.

Family members said Dyante Neal, 25, was enjoying a night out with friends in Ybor before things took a deadly turn.

Police said on September 26 around 2:30 a.m., he became involved in a verbal dispute in the 1700 block of 7th Avenue. Investigators said video shows a man try to engage the victim in an argument, with the victim appearing to avoid him.

"From all indications the victim tried to avoid that conflict, tried to walk away, tried to avoid the conflict repeatedly. It continued and at some point people started to gather. I don’t know if they all knew each other or not," Steve Hegarty, a public information officer with the Tampa Police Department said Friday.

RELATED: Man accused of delivering punch that killed 25-year-old man in Ybor City charged with manslaughter

Investigators said suddenly and apparently unprovoked, Jasper approached the victim and punched him. Dyante fell and hit his head on the pavement.

"It was very sudden. The victim went down and his head struck the pavement," Hegarty said. "Moments after that there was sort of a bluetooth speaker, sort of a portable speaker that the assailant grabbed then threw down by the victim. I don’t know if he hit him or not."

Neal was rushed to the hospital. He was declared dead on October 1. Police arrested Jasper Friday.

"I will not rest until he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," his mother, Dionne Neal, said. "His hands were lethal weapons."

Saturday, a judge set Jasper's bond at $250,000.

"After reading the CRA from the witnesses and probably from the video this attack was unprovoked. The defendant fled the scene after the victim was down without rendering aid and was seen on video fleeing the scene and going home. This was substantiated by several witnesses and several videos," an attorney for the state told the judge.

An attorney for Jasper said he has no criminal history, played college football and, though he makes a living through fitness, has no MMA background or marshal arts training.

"He’s deeply saddened to hear of this young man’s passing. He came to the defense of a friend and hopefully both sides of the story will come out and we’ll be able to work through this case. But I think there is an important lesson here which is how serious these things can happen when somebody falls and hits their head," Jasper's attorney, Jay Hebert, said.

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Hebert said they're exploring the defense of others in the case.

"At this point we’re looking at every piece of evidence we’ll wait for the autopsy. I don’t think the punch itself caused all of these injuries. I think the fall is probably gonna end up being what caused this problem to happen in this situation we find ourselves in," Hebert said.

Neal said while happy to hear of the arrest, she believes Jasper should be charged with murder.

She hopes her sons case will speak to others.

"This just really saddens me that you can’t not go out our young people cannot go out and enjoy themselves without violence and it has to stop somewhere and I just hope with Dyante’s case that other people just really think whether you’re intoxicated or whatever you’re doing, that you go out and have a good time and really think before you react because one punch as we see can turn deadly," she said.