WARREN, Mich. (WXYZ) — A major development in a high profile case as three men charged with manslaughter learn those charges are dropped. The victim’s mother now says the system failed her son.
Nathaniel Domagalski, 26, is speaking out after manslaughter charges against him and two others are dropped by the Macomb County prosecutor. He says the events of the past year and a half will stick with him the rest of his life.
“What happened was very sad and unfortunate,” Domagalski said. His attorney Wolf Mueller adding, "you have to recognize it’s a tragedy for the victim and his family, but also for the kids falsely accused.”
Domagalski and two men were originally accused of beating 24-year-old Kenneth Klinger to death in Warren, but since then prosecutors say they determined the cause of death to be a hit and run on Mound Road, that followed after back on July 4, 2019. Video showed a physical altercation, but legal expert in criminal defense Todd Flood says dropping charges means a case simply isn't there.
“It happens when evidence comes forth that puts the case in light of showing innocence of those defendants. That’s what happened here," Flood said.
Both other defendants, Christopher Zehnpfennig and Chris Twarowski, have also maintained their innocence, however, the victim's mother says the legal system failed her son.
“There is no justice. I feel completely let down,” said Betty Klingler, mother of Kenneth Klingler.
Betty disputes the findings that suggest her son's death wasn't caused by a physical altercation. She says her son didn't know the three men at all before they met earlier that night at a party. The men who gave him a ride afterwards claimed her son attacked them and they responded in self-defense.
“My son has 52 injuries. 52. There’s only one in question and blunt force trauma to his head,” Betty said.
Flood added, "Your heart goes out to them. They want closure. They want to move to a point in time where they can mourn their son.”
The county prosecutor first on this case was switched out due to corruption charges unrelated to the matter. One of the three men originally charged is a former WXYZ freelance news photographer.