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Murder in Paradise: Pittsburgh Man Accused of Strangling Indian American College Buddy While Vacationing in Hawaii

Murder in Paradise: Pittsburgh Man Accused of Strangling Indian American College Buddy While Vacationing in Hawaii

Staff Writer
  • Benjamin Fleming, who is out on bail for killing his friend Abhishek Gupta, asked not to leave Big Island.

A 37-year-old Pittsburgh man pleaded not guilty last week to manslaughter in the strangulation death of a college buddy he was vacationing with in Hawaii. A judge ordered Benjamin Fleming, who has been released on $250,000 bond, not to leave the Big Island without court permission pending his trial, scheduled for August.

Fleming was staying at a Kailua-Kona Airbnb in March with two buddies he graduated with from the MBA program at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, Pittsburgh last year. An evening of excessive drinking during the vacation among the three close friends soon turned deadly, leaving Abhishek Gupta, 30, dead on March 29 after one of his former classmates, Alexander Germany-Wald, 31, took him back to their Airbnb rental when Gupta was told to leave a bar because he was belligerently drunk. The third friend, Fleming, who has been charged with manslaughter in Gupta’s death, stayed back at the bar. 

When Germany-Wald returned to the condo with Gupta, he locked himself in a bedroom because Gupta began “berating” him, Germany-Wald testified. After Fleming returned to their rental, Germany-Wald and Gupta got into a fist-fight. “I knew that Gupta was psychotically drunk and that he was not in control of what he was doing,” testified Germany-Wald of Montclair, New Jersey, at a preliminary hearing for Fleming. “I knew that I was in grave danger when Abhishek got on top of me.” Germany-Wald, like Gupta works as a consultant at Deloitte.Fleming, 37, who returned to the U.S. Army as a communications specialist after earning his MBA, jumped in to restrain Gupta. 

As the preliminary hearing played out in a courtroom in Hawaii, Gupta’s family in Mississippi remembered him as “an adventurous man and full of life.

Germany-Wald told the court that he didn’t see what kind of hold Fleming used to restrain Gupta. Shortly after things calmed down, Fleming and Germany-Wald went into the kitchen for a beer. At first, recalled Germany-Wald, the pair could hear Gupta snoring. But they later noticed that Gupta stopped breathing.Fleming then called 911 to get help. When the paramedics arrived shortly after 2 a.m., they said there wasn’t anything more they could do for Gupta. The police initially arrested Gupta’s two classmates, ultimately releasing Germany-Wald free and clear, while Fleming was charged with manslaughter in the death. An autopsy determined that Gupta had been strangled after being put in a chokehold by Fleming, according to the prosecutor. 

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Fleming told the judge he’s now staying at a bed and breakfast in Captain Cook. His attorney Christopher Eggert filed a motion on April 15, asking that Fleming’s bail be reduced to $100,000 and for permission to return to the U.S. mainland. Eggert’s motion said Fleming “has no prior felony conviction, and has no record of missing any court appearance.”

As the preliminary hearing played out in a courtroom in Hawaii, Gupta’s family in Mississippi remembered him as “an adventurous man and full of life. “Abhishek will always be remembered by those he met as a lovable, kind, charismatic, caring, and brave soul. His loving spirit will be missed everyday. He had a strong affinity to share his larger-than-life outlook and enjoy all the finer things in life with his loved ones. Taken too soon from his family, he will leave a void in all the hearts he touched. He will remain young at heart, mind, and body. We pray that his soul finds peace and enter his eternal home free from any pain he may have endured,” his obituary read. Gupta is survived by his parents, Sanjeev and Nishu Gupta, and sister, Gauri Gupta Jones (Mitchell).

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