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Bourbon Street bouncer acquitted in GSU students death on New Years Eve 2004
Levon Jones
    LAKE CHARLES, La. — A New Orleans bouncer was acquitted Thursday in the death on New Year’s Eve 2004 of a Georgia college student whose friends had been excluded from a karaoke bar.
    A jury deliberated for about an hour before clearing Arthur Irons, the first of four bouncers to go to trial in the death of Levon Jones, who was in New Orleans for a flag football tournament.
    A confrontation took place soon after two friends of Jones, a student at Georgia Southern University, were barred from entering Razzoo Bar & Patio on Bourbon Street. They apparently didn’t meet the dress code.
    Witnesses said Jones ended up facedown on the sidewalk with four bouncers pinning him down. The coroner ruled that Jones’ death was a homicide, finding that the student died of asphyxiation.
    Bouncer Brandon Vicknair, 23, testified Wednesday that Jones sucker-punched Irons in the face as the bouncers were then confronted by Jones’ friends and other bystanders.
    After hearing District Judge Raymond Bigelow read the verdict, Irons, 43, sat and bowed his head as an attorney whispered in his ear. Irons remained in the courtroom as Jones’ relatives and friends filed out, many of them sobbing.
    ‘‘I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it,’’ said Jones’ girlfriend, Glenda Milton.
    Dalton Savwoir, a spokesman for the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office, said in a statement, ‘‘We accept the jury’s verdict, and we are focusing our attention on the next set of trials.’’
    In a statement late Thursday, Sydney Arroyo, a spokesman for Razzoo, said, ‘‘While the owners and staff of Razzoo are saddened by any circumstance when a tragic loss of life occurs, after four days of trial the evidence convinced the jury that their verdict of not guilty was proper and just. Since cases related to this incident continue to be pending before our justice system, we must respectfully withhold any further comment at this time.’’
    Defense attorney Ralph Whalen declined to comment.
    The vote was 10-2 to acquit; at least 10 votes were required for the 12-member jury to reach a verdict.
    Whalen contended in closing arguments that Jones had a heart condition, died of cardiac arrest and had a blood-alcohol limit nearly twice the legal limit for driving.
    ‘‘And if he hadn’t been fighting and stopped fighting, he would have been released,’’ Whalen said.
    But assistant prosecutor Greg Thompson argued that the bouncers ‘‘didn’t bother to listen to the crowd as they begged and pleaded to let Levon go.’’
    ‘‘If Levon Jones was not detained that night, would he be alive today? That’s all you have to ask yourselves,’’ Thompson said.
    Also charged with manslaughter are Clay Montz, 35, and Matthew Taylor, 25. Manslaughter carries up to 40 years in prison. All four trials were ordered moved out of New Orleans because of publicity.

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