A summer evening of merriment and drinking that ended with one man accidentally causing the death of an acquaintance led to a plea Tuesday to second-degree assault in an Anne Arundel County courtroom.
Ryan Richard Hynson, 25, from Glen Burnie, had been charged with manslaughter in the death of Robert Raeke Jr., 23, an Iraq war veteran who lived nearby. Terms of the plea before Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Michele D. Jaklitsch give Hynson three years of supervised probation that includes psychiatric evaluation, with a five-year suspended prison sentence.
Assistant State's Attorney Kelly Poma said that last July 3, two groups of about a half-dozen young men who knew each other, mostly from the neighborhood, were headed from a bar to a home. But "smack-talking" involving Raeke and another man from the group broke out in the street. In an ensuing dispute, Raeke threw a full can of beer at Hynson, hitting him the back. Hynson spun and punched Raeke in the face. When Raeke fell backward, his head slammed the pavement. He died soon afterward. His blood alcohol level was .16, she said.
"But for alcohol and the way he fell, this would have been a punch and that's it," Poma said. She said she told Raeke's family that a trial would have focused on painting a picture of Raeke's behavior that night and a verdict might not have led to a different outcome than the plea.
"Had he been tried before a jury, we think he would have found not guilty because his actions were justified by self-defense," said Peter S. O'Neill, Hynson's lawyer. "It's clear that even from the state's perspective Mr. Raeke was the aggressor." He said his client, whose blood alcohol level was not tested, expressed remorse for the death of a man with whom he'd played pickup football.
Shortly after Hynson was charged, a friend of both the victim and defendant who was there described the situation as a little argument, a lot of alcohol and an accidental death.