by Max Brantley
For the second time in a week, a man has died in Clinton following a blow to the head in a brief scuffle with another man.
Clinton Police Chief Tony Parish said Robert "Robbie" Cole, 53, died at a Little Rock hospital this morning following an altercation Wednesday evening with a neighbor on Biroja Street, Robert Charles Delay, 35.
According to Parish, Delay's daughter was playing in her yard about 6 p.m. when a ball went into Cole's yard. She asked her father if she could get it and he said she could. "When she did, Mr. Cole came out and started cussing her," Chief Parish said. "Delay confronted him. They got into it." Parish said Delay eventually "gave a shove" and Cole fell over backward, striking his head. He was taken to the local hospital and then transferred by air to Little Rock, but he died this morning. The precise nature of his injuries and what he struck his head on weren't available.
Delay was charged last night with criminal trespass and assault, Parish said. The death of Cole elevated the case to a felony, the police chief said, and transferred jurisdiction of the investigation to the Van Buren County sheriff's office and State Police. I haven't been able to learn yet if the charges have been upgraded since Cole's death.
Last Friday, Clinton lawyer and restaurant owner Brett Blakney died six hours after being hit by a man he tried to bar from his Black Dog Grill. Blakney was punched, then fell to the ground and struck his head. Though conscious for a time, his condition worsened by weather prevented air ambulance flights and a local ambulance wasn't available to transfer him to an advanced hospital.
Less than a week later, the city has experienced a repeat of a seemingly freakish fatal injury.
Parish said the City Council was scheduled to meet tonight. He said that the city needed to consider a rule that "when two men are talking they need to keep their hands in their pockets."