- Associated Press - Monday, December 7, 2015

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - An Idaho Falls man was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter Saturday for the death of a man he punched in a roadside brawl.

The jury convicted 23-year-old Tanner Cox after deliberating for six hours Friday and another hour on Saturday, reported The Post-Register (https://bit.ly/1NFvjWc ). Prosecutors had pursued the more serious charge of voluntary manslaughter, but Bonneville County prosecutor Daniel Clark said he considers the verdict a victory.

Cox and several other men in at least two cars chased Josh Olzak, 36, and his friend across town on May 9, according to police. Then Cox punched Olzak, knocking him down. Olzak died days later from brain swelling.

“When he fell down it didn’t sound good,” Cox said during an emotional testimony on Thursday. “So I picked him up and held him in my arms trying to see if he would wake up. … I started yelling ‘He’s hurt I need help.’”

Olzak was married and the father of two children. His wife and ex-wife both spoke in court but didn’t recommend any specific sentence for Cox.

“Nothing can fix this for us . nothing can bring Josh back,” said his wife, Gabrielle Olzak. But she said she might be able to forgive Cox in the future.

“Tanner taking responsibility for his actions is a really big step,” she said.

Olzak’s ex-wife, Amy Olzak, said their 16-year-old son and Olzak’s 5-year-old daughter are “trying to find some peace” with the death of their father.

Cox will be sentenced on February 3. Involuntary manslaughter carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison.

Bonneville County prosecutor Daniel Clark said he hasn’t decided on a sentencing recommendation yet, but that he will likely recommend a prison term.

“We will see how he behaves, if he acknowledges what he did was wrong,” said Clark. “That was, is and always will be important to us.”

Cox’s attorney, James Archibald, said he will ask for a rehabilitation program at a minimum security prison.

“Olzak’s family didn’t deserve this and neither does the Cox family,” he said.

“This is a sad, sad deal all around,” he said. “But this in no way can bring back Josh Olzak.”


Information from: Post Register, https://www.postregister.com

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