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Road Rage Trial Begins: Single Fatal Punch Alleged

Man faces misdemeanor assault and battery charges after victim fell ill an hour after the fight and never recovered.

An assault and battery trial begins against Librado Cena, 57, in the road-rage fight with William O'Brien in April 2013. O'Brien died 10 days later from a head injury sustained during the fight, according to police.
An assault and battery trial begins against Librado Cena, 57, in the road-rage fight with William O'Brien in April 2013. O'Brien died 10 days later from a head injury sustained during the fight, according to police.

After a man died in April following a road rage argument, an assault and battery trial begins Monday in the case.

Librado Cena, 58, allegedly hit William Hays O'Brien, 63, only once in the Best Buy parking lot in Fairfax, Va. But O’Brien would be hospitalized later the same day and die 10 days later, reportedly from a head injury during the fight.

Charges of aggravated malicious wounding were dropped last fall, but a grand jury indicted Cena for misdemeanor assault and battery in November. The maximum sentence is 12 months in jail.

Cena's lawyers claim he punched O’Brien only once, according to The Washington Post.

O'Brien had allegedly been honking his horn at Cena before stopping at the Fairfax store. Security footage released by Fairfax City Police shows Cena approaching O'Brien from behind in the parking lot. The two have an altercation, followed by O'Brien walking into the store and Cena driving off.

Roughly an hour later, O’Brien called 911 from his home with a headache and said he “couldn’t think straight.” Paramedics found him unresponsive.

O’Brien spent several days in the hospital, but died from what the medical examiner called “complications from blunt force trauma to the head."

On Tuesday, The Washington Post posted the security video and Cena's initial interview with police, conducted after O'Brien had been hospitalized.

O'Brien's daughter, Kelly O’Brien, told Patch in November that she wanted Cena to be held responsible. 

“So he was honked at. So what?" she said. "Getting honked at once—or even two or three or even four times—is not a good enough reason to follow someone like that and attack them."

Cena’s wife told the Post that her husband was defending himself and that his reputation has been “totally smeared."

John February 25, 2014 at 02:16 AM
That area is always a battle ground. The crappy 4 way stop gets people pissed off and honking and chasing each other around the parking lots... They really need a traffic light there, the 4 way stop is always busy and people speed up to the stop signs, roll through them and sometimes don't even stop or go out of turn... Usually you have to force your way out into the intersection saying my turn like it or not... It's a bad design, because everyone is either going to Walmart, BJ's Gas station for the pennies they save on gas or coming from or going to Best Buy.
Dean February 25, 2014 at 07:00 AM
Since when is killing someone a misdemeanor.One punch is no different than one stab or one shot when it results in someones death.Murder is murder.This victims family should be outraged.If it were my loved one, things would be much,much different.What a joke the law can be when a man is killed and they charge the piece of crap with a misdemeanor.
Tom G. February 25, 2014 at 07:44 AM
People should watch the video (several times) before coming to any conclusions. According to Cena, he approached O'Brien in the parking lot after O'Brien was honking at Cena at a stop sign. Again, according to Cena, he approached O'Brien to yell at him and O'Brien threw the first punch. Cena claims he retaliated by throwing a punch and then backed away. After the brief altercation both men left the scene. The video is not very clear, but if what Cena says is true then who really instigated the altercation? I think some are judging based on the outcome rather than the event by labeling it "murder".
Timothy McVay February 25, 2014 at 08:01 AM
Not murder, but it is manslaughter for the fact that Cena approached O'Brian and instigated the fight, he could have just went on his merry way but decided to have some words and it escalated to the final act, the punch to the head.
Tom G. February 25, 2014 at 08:13 AM
Tim, which act instigated the fight? Aggressively honking at someone, yelling at someone, or throwing the first punch?
Liz February 25, 2014 at 06:38 PM
Lee, despite what happened, I know you're a good person. I'm praying you and all involved. May God give you strength during these difficult times.
rbud February 26, 2014 at 06:50 AM
We have so many reasons for not taking accountability for our poor behaviors.
Timothy McVay February 26, 2014 at 09:24 AM
When he was approached in a threatening manner
Tom G. February 26, 2014 at 11:14 AM
Tim, how do you know it was threatening? How can you tell? Here is a link to a fuller account of what happened: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/anger-on-the-roads-led-to-a-single-deadly-punch-in-fairfax-city/2014/02/23/23e04034-98d2-11e3-b88d-f36c07223d88_story.html
Timothy McVay February 26, 2014 at 01:54 PM
I've been in similar situations myself .If a person takes the time to park his car and confront you, he's not a happy pappy ,and how do you know it wasn't threatening? No reason to throw a punch at some one who's confronted you in a non threatening manner,,, GOT IT, Its like road rage, police will tell you that the person getting out of the car and confronting the other person is the guilty person, if the other person remains in his car. i'e getting out of the car is approaching in a threatening manner
Tom G. February 26, 2014 at 03:21 PM
It's not farfetched to think that O'Brien was a little grouchy, too, if he feels the need to honk at Cena at every intersection. There may not have been a reason to throw a punch if not approached in a threatening manner, but that doesn't mean O'Brien didn't do it without good reason...it happens. And punching someone isn't proof that the person you punched was threatening you. I don't know that Cena's approach wasn't threatening any more than you know that it was, which is my point.
Timothy McVay February 26, 2014 at 07:05 PM
Just your opinion. But Him approaching is aggression, he could have just left it at that, but he didn't he approached, so he caused the death. You use words like farfetched and may not, nothing but what ifs, its a fact that Cena approached when he should have just moved on, he had something to prove to himself and it got him in big trouble
Tom G. February 26, 2014 at 08:33 PM
While we (and Cena, actually) do agree that Cena should have ignored O'Brien's irritating and provocative behavior, we'll just have to disagree about two things. I disagree that approaching someone is aggression (if so, why didn't O'Brien strike him right away instead of allegedly challenging Cena to a fight after Cena gave him a piece of his mind), and that Cena caused the death. O'Brien was on an anti-stroke drug that prevented his blood from coagulating so that an otherwise innocuous punch caused his brain to bleed out. If the two got in a scuffle and O'Brien slipped on some ice and died from the fall would you hold Cena responsible for the death? Does O'Brien bear any responsibility for what happened, or is it OK to run around harassing people and getting into fights when they get pissed off at you? I represent my opinion as opinion, though, while you misrepresent your opinion as fact.
Theresa Phan March 27, 2014 at 12:59 PM
Don't start a fight if you are a frail man.

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