Jury deliberating in Groton manslaughter case

A Norwich jury is deliberating in the manslaughter case of Dirren T. Conyers.

The 35-year-old is accused of placing a fatal choke hold on Jose Cartagena during a melee on April 13, 2008 in the Poquonnock Bridge section of Groton.

Conyers and Cartagena, 36, were part of a group of people who had been drinking together earlier that night at Sully’s, a neighborhood bar. The fight had started when the 36-year-old Cartagena, newly introduced to the tight group of friends and relatives, said something about somebody’s mother, according to earlier testimony. At one point, seven or eight people were kicking and punching him as he lay on the ground, according to a witness.

In taking his case to trial, Conyers, who is free on $250,000 bond while his case is pending, rejected several plea offers from the state. The last plea offer involved a six-year prison sentence.

At the trial, witnesses described a dark and chaotic scene outside the Miami Court home of Scott and Stacey Sebastian, where the group had migrated after the bar closed.

Prosecutor Christa L. Baker had called several people who said they saw Conyers attacking Cartagena. Defense attorney Tina Sypek-D’Amato had called witnesses, including Conyers’ longtime girlfriend, who implied that others could have been responsible for Cartagena’s death.

The six-member jury that will decide the case began deliberating Monday afternoon.

— Karen Florin

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