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Man gets 5 to 15 years for fatal fight fueled by alcohol | News

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Man gets 5 to 15 years for fatal fight fueled by alcohol

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- The apparent victor in an alcohol-fueled fight at Ann Street Park last fall apologized for his actions Monday, saying the death of 56-year-old Joseph Herbert Chenier, "will stay with me the rest of my life.''

David Wayne Dugas admitted to scuffling with Chenier at the mothballed city park last fall; the victim's body was found Sept. 25 by construction workers removing an old bathroom at the dilapidated park west of the Grand River near the northbound U.S. 131 ramp.

Dugas appeared for sentencing today before Kent County Circuit Court Judge George Quist. Dugas took exception to a pre-sentence report that indicated he had no remorse.

"What happened that night was never intended, never planned,'' Dugas said as members of the victim's family listened from the gallery. "It's something that will stay with me the rest of my life.''

Defense attorney Richard Zambon said both men were under the influence of alcohol when they got into a fight. "It could have gone either way,'' Zambon said. "My client could be the victim here.''

Quist sentenced Dugas to serve between five and 15 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter. He was also assessed fines and court costs.

Dugas admitted to punching Chenier, causing him fall and strike his head. An autopsy showed the victim died from a head injury.

Dugas had been a suspect early on, but fled to New York last fall after being interviewed by police.

The two were at the park with about a half-dozen other people, police said. It's believed the fight took place the evening before his body was found.

A fugitive task force caught up with Dugas in late November in the western New York hamlet of Steamburg where police believe Dugas was staying with a friend.

Dugas, 28, has a long criminal record dating back to his teen years when he was charged with assault and battery and minor in possession of alcohol. Over the years, he's been charged more than two dozen times. Criminal cases include assault and battery, domestic violence, stalking and assorted traffic offenses.

None of his convictions resulted in prison time, however. His last conviction, for assault and battery, resulted in a 30-day jail sentence last year.