Smyrna man charged with manslaughter in 2020 death of NC man after fight

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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT/WKRN) — Charges against a Smyrna man in a 2020 assault that led to the death of an Onslow County, N.C. man have been upgraded, officials said Thursday.

Joel Kyle Huff, 29, is facing involuntary manslaughter charges in the Sept. 17, 2020 death of Richard Jason Norris. Huff was taken into custody in Murfreesboro on Wednesday and will be extradited back to North Carolina to face charges.

On July 17, 2020, Onslow County Sheriff’s Office Deputies responded to Dino’s Tavern & Grill in Midway Park for a report of an assault. Upon arrival, a male was found lying unconscious in the parking lot. The investigation revealed that Norris had been in an argument with a man and woman in the bar, which led into the parking where it escalated into a physical assault.

Deputies said Norris was struck by Huff and fell to the ground, striking his head. Norris was transported to a hospital but never regained consciousness and died on Sept. 17, 2020 because of his injuries.

Huff and Rebekah Grace Petto, 27, of Murfreesboro were charged at the time with felony assault inflicting serious injury and were arrested on July 19, 2020, in Woodbury. Huff and Petto were released on bond pending court and both returned to Tennessee.

After further investigation and review with the district attorney’s office, charges on Huff were upgraded on Wednesday.

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