The death of a Vermont man from blows suffered during an informal boxing match is a homicide but not necessarily a crime, according to police.
Hours after Ryan Murphy strapped on a pair of boxing gloves and sparred with a friend early Sunday morning, the 29-year-old lost consciousness and was found not breathing and unresponsive, a Burlington Police Department press release said.
He died several hours later despite efforts by friends, police and emergency personnel to resuscitate him.
“When an MMA fighter hits another MMA fighter in a consensual boxing match with boxing gloves among friends and he subsequently dies of that, it is a homicide but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a crime," Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo told the Burlington Free Press Wednesday afternoon.
Police have not released the name of the person who sparred with Murphy.
The cause of death was listed as brain injuries due to blunt impact to the head, the newspaper reported.
Investigators have not determined whether alcohol or drugs were a factor in Murphy’s death and have looked at cell phone videos taken from onlookers.
“I think we have cause to believe this may be an instance of successive concussive injuries that had an escalating effect," the police chief said. "That’s an important public health message.”
"Mens rea" is a legal term that allows the justice system to differentiate between someone who did not mean to commit a crime and someone who knowingly set out to commit a criminal act.
"The question is, are we treating this as a crime, and so far with the evidence, it’s pointing away from that direction," del Pozo said.