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Witness Gives New Details About Deadly Punch Outside Bar

By: Val Thompson Email
By: Val Thompson Email

Joseph Martin Terry III

Joseph Martin Terry III

"It was just one little punch. It was just a freak accident."

- Buster Taylor, Owner of Riverside North

July 31, 2013

The owner of Riverside North Bar and Restaurant in Albemarle County is opening up about a fight that happened outside his bar last month that prosecutors say cost one man his life.

Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford says Joseph Martin Terry III was the one who caused Vince Shifflett to die during an altercation the night of June 26, in the parking lot of Riverside North.

"There was an incident that occurred between Mr. Terry and Mr. Shifflett," Lunsford said. "I'm not going to tell you exactly what, at this point, because I'm still waiting on some portions of the report."

Terry is charged with involuntary manslaughter because, Lunsford said, he caused the death of Shifflett by doing a criminal act that was not felonious.

Buster Taylor, the owner of Riverside North, says he knows what happened. He's one of just a few people who has seen surveillance footage of the fight. That surveillance footage has since been turned over to police, and they are not sharing it with the media because they say it's part of an ongoing investigation.

"That Shifflett kid hadn't had but two beers all night and he was going home," Taylor said. "The camera shows one quick punch and he fell down, got right straight back up and then a few minutes later, he just collapsed."

Taylor says the man who punched Shifflett wasn't alone.

"There was three guys," Taylor said.

Taylor says, after Shifflett was punched and got back up, the three men left, and they didn't see him later collapse. However Riverside staff did see Shifflett fall a second time, and Taylor says they were the ones who called an ambulance.

Shifflett was taken to the University of Virginia Medical Center, where we died hours later from a brain aneurysm.

"After they determined that Mr. Shifflett was not going to live," Lunsford said, "and sent the body for an autopsy and the medical examiner had to do some additional tests, that took a little bit longer than normal."

Loved ones have placed a memorial to Shifflett at the base of a tree near Riverside North that can be seen by all drivers coming into the complex. But Taylor says his bar and restaurant is being unfairly connected to this death.

"People were thinking that it's worse, thinking someone got beat to death or something in the parking lot," Taylor said. "But it didn't happen that way. It was just one little punch. It was just a freak accident. Since then, you know we're losing a lot of sales every Friday and Saturday."

Joseph Terry did not return calls for comment. He is due back in court on September 5.

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