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CROWN POINT — A Lake Criminal Court jury on Tuesday found a Griffith man guilty on two counts alleging he was responsible for the death of a fellow union member in 2013 because of a fight.

Eric L. Yost was found guilty Level B felony aggravated battery and Level C felony battery resulting in serious bodily injury in connection with the death of Jacob Oxley, 28, of Lake Village in Dec. 13, 2013.

The jury acquitted Yost of Level C felony involuntary manslaughter, according to the Lake County prosecutor's office.

Yost told police he initially approached Oxley during a Dec. 12, 2013, union meeting at the Operating Engineers Hall in Merrillville after hearing that Oxley had strawberry moonshine.

While Yost was smelling the moonshine, Oxley pushed the jar twice causing the liquid to hit Yost's face, according to the affidavit. Yost told police he walked away.  

After the meeting, Yost approached Oxley again and the two began to fight, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Merrillville police reviewed surveillance video and determined that Yost punched Oxley's face, which caused the top of Oxley's head to hit a brick wall, according to the affidavit. Autopsy results indicate Oxley had brain swelling and bleeding at the top of his head.

A group of union members broke up the fight, and Oxley was able to go home. Oxley's fiancee told police he ate a sandwich that night and fed their dog.

Oxley woke with a headache the next morning, but went to work at ArcelorMittal in East Chicago.

A union representative spoke with Oxley by phone about 8:17 a.m. Dec. 13, 2013, about the fight. The representative told police the conversation lasted minutes and Oxley sounded coherent. 

Oxley was found slumped over and unresponsive later that morning at his job at ArcelorMittal. He was taken to St. Catherine's Hospital in East Chicago, where he was pronounced dead at 9:41 a.m.

The coroner's office determined that Oxley died from extensive head injuries with a large scalp hemorrhage due to blunt force trauma, according to the affidavit. The death was ruled a homicide. 

Yost's sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 26 before Judge Diane Boswell.

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Public Safety Reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.