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Prosecutors: Man was beaten to death with stick over video game

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2011, at 6:22 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2011, at 6:30 p.m.

— Benjamin Redgate's friend called him "Dizzle."

The 22-year-old had "Dizz" scribbled on his neck, his former girlfriend told a jury Tuesday. She said he had "Dizzle" on various labels and items around the duplex they shared in Planeview.

Prosecutor Tyler Roush told jurors Redgate also had a "dizzle stick" — a metal rod inscribed with "Dizz" — that he used to beat Luke German to death in an argument over a football video game last October.

As his trial began Tuesday in Sedgwick County District Court, defense attorney Brad Sylvester said there's no medical evidence that German died from injuries inflicted by the defendant or his brother, Chris.

"He died of an aneurysm," Sylvester said, referring to a weak vessel pumping blood to the brain.

Although injuries from a fight could have aggravated the aneurysm, the defense contended he wasn't beaten severely enough to kill him.

"At the end of the trial, we'll be asking you to find there wasn't the intent," Sylvester said.

Police who had responded to a call that a man wasn't breathing testified that they couldn't see visible wounds, as emergency crews tried to re-suscitate German. A crime scene investigator said the inside of the duplex in the 3900 block of East Roseberry, near Pawnee and George Washington Boulevard, looked clean and tidy.

"There was nothing out of the ordinary," investigator Amy McCowan told the jury.

But police became suspicious when people started changing their descriptions of what happened.

Erika Courson, 20, Ben Redgate's ex-girlfriend, gave jurors a different version than what she'd told a 911 operator that night and police the next day.

What's not in dispute: German, 22, came to stay at the duplex where the Redgates and their girlfriends lived. He brought a bag of clothes and personal items and a PlayStation2 video game console. He arrived Oct. 18.

What happened the next day varies.

Courson was the first eyewitness to testify.

German and Ben Redgate had been playing the "Madden NFL 10" video game. German began accusing Ben Redgate of cheating, Courson said, by using codes to manipulate the game.

Courson said German started playing video games that Monday and didn't quit until he and Chris Redgate, 26, got in a fight the next night.

Chris Redgate became en-raged and began hitting German, Courson said. The scuffle shifted to a small bedroom down a hallway in the three-room house, as German ran to try and get away.

Ben Redgate went into the room, too, Courson said. But she claimed he was only trying to calm his brother down.

"By the way, you haven't told police any of this have you?" prosecutor C.J. Rieg asked.

"No ma'am," Courson said.

Courson said she saw Chris Redgate punch and kick German "several times." She then said she saw the two brothers carry German unconscious from the bedroom and put him outside.

German wasn't breathing.

Courson testified she immediately called 911. But she told the operator German had left to get beer and she found him outside, when she went to the porch to smoke a cigarette.

"We haven't seen him in an hour," Courson said on the 911 recording played for the jury.

"So when was it that you all got together to tell that story?" Rieg asked.

"I don't know," Courson said. "I just told that to 911."

"So why did you tell them that?" Rieg asked.

"Because I was scared, Courson said. "I didn't know what to do. I'd never seen any-thing like that."

Chris Redgate has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He is scheduled to testify at his brother's trial, which continues today before Judge Jeff Syrios.

Reach Ron Sylvester at 316-268-6514 or rsylvester@wichitaeagle.com.

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