SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A hearing for two South Carolina marines accused of beating a gay man in downtown Savannah in June wrapped up late Thursday morning.
Police said Christopher Stanzel and Keil Cronauer hit Kieran Daly on June 12 after an encounter outside a business on Congress Street. They no longer face felony charges.
After the FBI reviewed the evidence in the case, it said they should only face a misdemeanor charge, and the case would not be tried as a hate crime. Witnesses told police the marines got upset with Daly and punched him after he had walked away, knocking him to the ground.
Judge Claire Cornwell-Williams will review the security tape from the night in question and decide whether Cronauer will face a disorderly conduct at the city level or state level. However, Judge Williams said there was no evidence to support a battery charge.
The responding officer and a detective testified Thursday morning, as well as Daly and another witness.
Cronauer's attorney argued that his client did not do anything wrong and that he should not have been arrested or charged. Cronauer was referred to by the state as the instigator in the incident.
The state called into question a Facebook message from Cronauer to Daly's friend in which he allegedly apologized for the incident and that he didn't do anything and it was his friend who threw the punch.
Stanzel's attorney argued that since no one saw the punch thrown that his client did not do anything wrong.
Both sides at the hearing kept referring to surveillance video. The defense said there's still no proof that a punch was thrown and the state said the video shows Stanzel followed Daly.
The judge cited probable cause, and has sent Stanzel's misdemeanor battery charge to state court for a trial.
Stanzel and Crounauer are both stationed at the Marine Corp Air Station Beaufort.