LAKELAND – A Lakeland man has been arrested and charged with second degree murder after a fight at a party this past weekend that turned deadly.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office Homicide detectives arrested Kristian C. Brooks-Marlar, 27, of 2339 View Way in Lakeland, and charged him with the beating death of Matthew Ross McCraney, 25, also of Lakeland.
Although the sheriff’s office said the two men got into an argument that turned into a fight during a party, interviews with witnesses at the scene made it clear to investigators that Brooks-Marlar had not been defending himself.
“Witnesses told deputies the suspect was not acting in self-defense and that there was no reason for him to attack the victim in such a violent matter,” said Stephanie Mier, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, in her release on the arrest.
The death happened in the early morning hours of Sunday, Jan. 29 in Lakeland. Around 2:40 a.m., the sheriff’s office noted, Brooks-Marlar beat McCraney unconscious while they were both attending a party at Jarrod Lane in Lakeland. Witnesses told detectives the two men started arguing, and it escalated from there.
“They engaged in an argument, then got involved in a physical confrontation,” Mier noted. She added that prior to meeting at this party, “The two men did not know each other.”
Witnesses said Brooks-Marlar became violent and started hitting McCraney.
“According to witnesses at the scene, Brooks-Marlar struck McCraney several times in the face with his fists, knocking McCraney to the ground,” Mier noted. “Brooks-Marlar continued to strike the victim and kicked him several times while he was down on the ground. Brooks-Marlar then fled the scene.”
According to initial results from the autopsy conducted by the Medical Examiner’s Office, McCraney suffered traumatic bleeding on the brain as a result of being punched in the head several times, and died from his injuries. Brooks-Marlar was arrested later that same day and charged with second degree murder. He’s now in the Polk County Jail.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office said this was not Brooks-Marlar’s first brush with the law, and that his criminal history includes eight misdemeanor charges and one felony charge. Previous arrests include for traffic offenses, resisting arrest without violence, burglary and possession of marijuana.
His most recent arrest was on Dec. 5, 2010 for a traffic violation.
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