Charges upgraded to manslaughter for Tennessee man in 2020 death of Onslow County man after fight

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Joel Kyle Huff (Onslow County Sheriff’s Office photo)

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Charges against a Tennessee man in a 2020 assault that led to the death of an Onslow County man have been upgraded, officials with the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.

Joel Kyle Huff, 29, of Smyrna, Tenn. is facing involuntary manslaughter charges in the Sept. 17, 2020 death of Richard Jason Norris. Huff was taken into custody in Murfreesboro, Tenn. on Wednesday and will be extradited back to Onslow County to face charges.

On July 17, 2020, Onslow County Sheriff’s Office Deputies responded to Dino’s Tavern & Grill on Freedom Way in Midway Park for a report of an assault. Upon arrival, a male was found lying unconscious in the parking lot. The investigation revealed that Norris had been in an argument with a man and woman in the bar, which led into the parking where it escalated into a physical assault.

Deputies said Norris was struck by Joel Kyle Huff and fell to the ground, striking his head. Norris was transported to a hospital but never regained consciousness and died on Sept. 17, 2020 as a result of his injuries.

Huff and Rebekah Grace Petto, 27, of Bridge Avenue in Murfreesboro, Tenn., were charged at the time with felony assault inflicting serious injury and were arrested on July 19, 2020 in Woodbury, Tenn. Huff and Petto were released on bond pending court and both returned to Tennessee, their place of residence.

After further investigation and review with the district attorney’s office, charges on Huff were upgraded on Wednesday.

Anyone with information about this incident may contact Onslow County Sheriff’s Office at (910) 455-3113, Detective Daniels at (910) 989-4071 or Crime Stoppers at (910) 938-3273. Refer to case 2020-008631 when calling.

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