Preliminary hearing set in deadly vacation rental fight

A 37-year-old Pittsburgh man made his initial court appearance Wednesday on a charge of manslaughter

A 37-year-old Pittsburgh man made his initial court appearance Wednesday on a charge of manslaughter stemming from an altercation at a Kailua-Kona vacation rental that resulted in the death of his roommate.

Benjamin Fleming was arrested Monday after Hawaii Police Department officers were called to the Kona Mansions Condominiums for an unconscious man who was not breathing. Medics, who were already on the scene, determined that the victim identified as 30-year-old Abhishek Gupta, also of Pittsburgh, was already deceased.

An autopsy performed Tuesday afternoon found the cause of death to be strangulation and manner of death to be homicide.

According to court documents, when Fleming was interviewed at the Kona Police Station he provided conflicting statements as to the chain of events leading up to the incident involving Gupta’s death.

A second man arrested at the scene, 31-year-old Alexander Germany-Wald of Boston was released without charges.

Fleming’s attorney Christopher Eggert argued for supervised release or reduced bail for his client. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chase Murray said Fleming had a return flight to Pittsburgh booked for April 4, had no ties to the island and was a flight risk.

Kona District Court Judge Kimberly Taniyama maintained bail at $250,000.

Fleming remains in custody at Hawaii Community Correctional Center. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 7.

If convicted, Fleming faces up to 20 years incarceration.