Earnest Charged In Fatal Punch

Prosecutors charged Sean Earnest with punching Anthony Demello on the porch of a Fulton residence last month, causing Demello to fall and sustain a fatal head injury when he struck the pavement.

Earnest, 20, of Wheeling turned himself in to police Wednesday, one day after a warrant for his arrest was issued. Magistrate Harry Radcliffe arraigned Earnest the same day on a single count of misdemeanor battery. He posted $5,000 bond and was released.

A preliminary hearing in the case before Magistrate Patty Murphy has not yet been scheduled. Earnest has not yet been appointed an attorney to represent him.

Demello, 22, of Benwood was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma and died the afternoon of May 9 at Wheeling Hospital, where he was being treated in the critical care unit.

Hours earlier, he was arguing with a group of people on the porch at 50 Jones St. Witnesses told police a man they knew only as “Sean” struck Demello, causing him to fall from the porch and strike his head on the sidewalk. Earnest had left the scene by the time police arrived.

Demello was suffering from an obvious head injury and was unresponsive when officers reported to the residence. Wheeling Fire Department transported him to the hospital.

At the hospital, Demello’s sister, Ashley, identified Earnest out of a photo lineup as the “Sean” who was at the house earlier. She was not at the home when Earnest allegedly hit her brother, however.

Earnest told a police detective that after another person pushed Demello from the porch, Demello walked back up the steps aggressively with a clenched fist, court documents state. Earnest reportedly admitted he then struck Demello once with his fist, causing him to fall.

Officers were called to the same home, where 25-year-old Charles Mitchum lives, earlier that night. In that incident, Demello and William McCorkle reportedly got into a fist fight over a girl. McCorkle was gone by the time police arrived.

Police said Demello was intoxicated, and although he was bleeding from his lip and nose, he did not wish to pursue charges and officers left the scene. Demello reportedly left, as well, before returning to the house and getting into the second argument.