A state appeals court Monday affirmed a Prairieville man’s conviction and life prison sentence in the May 2011 beating death of a St. Amant man outside a now-defunct Ascension Parish strip club.
A three-judge panel of the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal in Baton Rouge rejected Zachary Pusch’s contention that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support a second-degree murder conviction.
Pusch, who does not contest killing 28-year-old Willis Tanner IV outside the Suthern Kumfort’s Lounge in Prairieville, argues he should only have been found guilty of manslaughter, the panel noted.
Tanner was a club patron that night.
Pusch, 22, claims he had just gotten into an argument with his ex-girlfriend — a dancer at the Airline Highway club — and his emotions were heightened. He also alleges he was deprived of his self-control and cool reflection and was provoked by the victim.
“The helpless victim was lying face down on the ground, apparently unconscious. The fight was clearly over when the defendant, who was pacing back and forth in the parking lot, suddenly ran toward the victim and jumped on his neck and head several times,” retired Judge William Kline Jr. wrote for the panel that included 1st Circuit Judges Randolph Parro and Jewel “Duke” Welch.
An Ascension Parish jury convicted Pusch on March 14, 2012.
Tanner died of blunt-force trauma to the head in the early hours of May 4, 2011.
A bouncer at the club and a club patron both testified that Tanner kicked at Pusch first, then Pusch hit Tanner and knocked him out.