Fatal Blow: A Punch Leaves A Man Dead, No One Charged

Four years ago, a man in Council Bluffs died after a wild afternoon.
No one was ever charged for his death. His wife refuses to give up fighting for him.

"Did you love your husband?" Malorie Maddox asked. "Oh, very much." said Erica Whitley.

It was the day of Erica and Michael Whitley's six month wedding anniversary. It would be their last.

"When I came out I found him laying on the ground. He was bleeding from his head." said Erica.

It all began four years ago in their front yard. Michael was outside in the front yard.

"Some kids, older kids came by and made some derogatory remarks about his tattoos which upset him." said Erica.

Michael followed the kids to the park. The two sides were screaming back an forth.

"I'm not saying that he's all right in this. He should have just walked away from this but he didn't." said Erica.

After confronting the teens, Michael went back across the street towards his house. He was standing next door, still yelling toward the park.

Then, a new teen enters the scene.

Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilbur says, "He hadn't been involved in any of the prior altercations."

Wilbur lays out what this teen told him happened next.

"He said, Dude. Go back. You're making a fool of yourself. You're embarrassing yourself. Go back in your yard."

"It was at that time that Mr. Whitley threw a punch at ----. ---- then dodged the punch. Punched him one time." said Wilbur.

Michael Whitley went down. He never got up. He was rushed to the hospital where he remained in a coma for 18 days.

"I don't understand why no charges were filed." said Erica Whitley.

Matt Wilbur's view? It's about a clear cut of a case of justification that I see."

We combed through page after page of police reports.

Here's why the family is still confused and upset. Some witnesses gave conflicting accounts over what happened that day.

"One of the witnesses says that he threw the punch first." said Malorie Maddox.

"I don't know that I've seen that. My understanding is they interviewed quite a few people. It's possible one said that." said Wilbur.

Once Michael was down?

"--ran from the scene." said Malorie.

"I don't know if he ran or walked." said Wilbur.

"But he left him there. Why would he do that?" asked Malorie.

"My guess is because he was on probation." said Wilbur.

In the end, Wilbur didn't charge the teen with anything.

"If I don't think there's anyway I'm going to get a jury to convict somebody, then I'm not going to charge them." said Wilbur.

Leaving Michael's widow still searching for closure.

"As far as I'm concerned the minute they rolled up they already had their mind made up. I want to see the person that actually did it be charged with it." said Erica.

Michael Whitley was 46 when he died. His death certificate lists his death as a homicide.

We are not naming the teen who punched him because he wasn't charged in this case.

Charges will never be filed in Michael Whitley's death. Iowa's Statute of Limitations is three years for manslaughter cases.


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