Prosser man died after drinking, apparent fight

By Paula Horton, Herald staff writerDecember 9, 2010 

PROSSER — A night of drinking followed by an apparent fight between two friends left one man dead and the other charged in his death.

Clifford F. Flett, 51, of Prosser, was charged Wednesday with first-degree manslaughter.

He's accused of beating up Jeffrey Alexander, 64, of Prosser, on Oct. 28, according to Benton County Superior Court documents.

Alexander was found unresponsive the next morning and died Nov. 5 at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland.

An autopsy showed Alexander died from a blow to the skull that caused a blood clot. He also had infections in his lungs and excess fluid in his abdominal cavity, documents said.

Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, a forensic pathologist in Yakima, also found bruising on Alexander's neck and determined he died from homicidal violence.

Bail was set at $100,000 for Flett, who has been in the Benton County jail since Nov. 1 on an unrelated charge.

Flett had a warrant out for his arrest at the time of the alleged assault against Alexander after he failed to appear at an Oct. 21 court hearing for a pending felony charge of failing to register as a sex offender.

Benton County sheriff's investigators determined that Flett, Alexander and three others -- Shannon Meiers, Pat McGowan and Wendy Swager -- spent the evening of Oct. 28 drinking and sitting around a fire pit at 60702 Chaffee Road.

Meiers said he went to bed first and when he woke up the next morning she found Alexander outside and moaning. He moved Alexander into an abandoned bus on the property, which is where he was staying, documents said.

Swager, who is Flett's girlfriend, later stopped by to see if Alexander was OK because Flett had beaten him up the night before, documents said.

Meiers then went to check on Alexander but couldn't wake him so he called 911.

Sheriff's deputies arrived around 11:40 a.m. and tried to talked to Alexander but he was not responsive.

When Benton Fire District 5 medics arrived, Alexander was still unconscious and they saw bruising on his left temple, documents said. Medics also noticed his left eye was hemorrhaged.

Swager gave different statements to investigators, documents said. She also gave a handwritten statement that said no one, including herself, saw what happened between Flett and Alexander.

Swager, however, told another person, Fawn Schumacher, that she was present when Flett beat up Alexander, and that Flett hit her in the face when she tried to defend Alexander, documents said.

Swager also had driven Flett to his sister's home Oct. 29 and told his sister and brother-in-law, Mary and William Petersen, that he needed to stay with them because he had gotten into a fight with Swager, documents said.

Later, he reportedly told them he had gotten into a fight with Alexander and while arguing, "I wrapped an extension cord around his neck and drug his ass outside the trailer and I beat the f--- out of him," documents said.

McGowan refused to talk to detectives when they tried to question him Nov. 5, but he did give a statement to investigators Nov. 10.

McGowan said the night before Alexander went to the hospital, the group was drinking and he had walked Alexander to the school bus on the property where he slept, documents said.

The next morning, Meiers told him he had found Alexander outside the bus and then Swager arrived and told McGowan that Flett had beat up Alexander, documents said.

Flett admitted to arguing and struggling with Alexander but denied ever hitting him in the face, documents said.

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