LEAGUE CITY — A man pleaded not guilty Tuesday in a trial involving the death of a ”meth addict” who jumped from a moving truck after an alleged pistol-whipping.
The defense claimed Russell Lee Nentwich 35 was innocent and that the man who died Bryan Tindall was so high on methamphetamine that he wanted to jump from the truck to talk to fuel pumps because he believed the pumps were talking to him.
Nentwich was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon stemming from a July 13 2010 incident in League City Prosecutor Jennifer Ott told the jury.
Nentwich a passenger in his truck was accused of pistol-whipping Tindall 40 as another man the only witness drove the pair toward Bacliff on FM 646 near Interstate 45.
Ott warned the jury it wouldn’t like certain details of Tindall’s life.
Jumped From Truck
”He was a father and a husband and a friend of the defendant but Bryan Tindall was also a meth addict and a pill head” Ott said. ”You’re not going to hear from Bryan Tindall because he’s dead.
”He was so scared of the defendant hitting him over the head with a gun that he jumped out of a moving vehicle and he died.”
Ott told the jury that Tindall owed Nentwich money and that it was Tindall’s intention to somehow pay the debt by going to game rooms. Tindall however was unable to gain access to any of the rooms Ott said.
Ott accused Nentwich of threatening Tindall saying Tindall knew Nentwich had a handgun. Tindall grabbed the witness when he refused to stop Ott said.
”Russell Nentwich pushes him down and beats him over the head with a pistol” Ott said. ”Tindall is so scared he opens the door at FM 646 where Target and Walmart are and he jumps out.”
Neither Nentwich nor the witness went to check on Tindall Ott said. The pair went to Bacliff and Ott accused Nentwich of telling two acquaintances of the incident.
No Fingerprints DNA On Gun
League City police investigating the case found Tindall’s blood in the truck but there were no fingerprints or DNA on a handgun found in the truck Ott said.
”Why wasn’t Russell Nentwich charged with murder or manslaughter?” Ott asked the jury. ”The state wants to bring a case we feel we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt and in this case it was aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.”
Defense attorney Mark Aronowitz told the jury there was evidence of a fight between Nentwich and Tindall but that there was no evidence the assault was aggravated.
Aronowitz claimed Tindall tried to attack the driver with a knife when the man wouldn’t let Tindall out of the pickup.
Talking Fuel Pumps
”During the time they’re going to game rooms Tindall decides the gas pumps were talking to him and he needed to go jump out of the car to go talk to them” Aronowitz said. ”All of this is long before the fight.”
Nentwich wanted to keep Tindall in the automobile to return him to his wife Aronowitz said.
”When he breaks out a knife and threatens to stab the person driving the truck only at that point does Russell fight with Tindall” Aronowitz said. ”What’s certain is it wasn’t assault with a deadly weapon.”
The pair also didn’t stop to check on Tindall because Nentwich persuaded the angry driver against going back to assault Tindall because Tindall had a knife Aronowitz said.
When interviewed by police the driver changed his story of the event at least twice Aronowitz said.
”The last time he changed his story he just so happened to be in custody of the police department for other activity” Aronowitz said.
The case in Judge Susan Criss’ 212th District Court in Galveston was expected to last the rest of the week. Aronowitz told the jury his client might testify.