Man throws punch in fatal bar fight


Sequim Gazette staff

A 21-year-old Clallam County man is accused of throwing a punch that ended another’s life.


Police arrested Casey Joseph Balch after a bar fight outside Front Street Alibi, 1605 E. Front St., in Port Angeles during the night of June 1. According to witnesses, Balch had removed his shirt and taken an aggressive stance to incite a fight with another man outside the bar.


A third man, Donald G. Knechtel, 48, of Marysville, stepped between the two and tried to separate them, witnesses said.


That’s when Balch punched Knechtel in the face, knocking him backward onto the asphalt parking lot and causing him to lose consciousness after hitting his head on the pavement, officers said.


Knechtel was intubated and transported to the emergency room by medics before being airlifted to Harborview Medical Center where doctors declared him effectively brain dead and said his injuries were “unsurvivable,” according to a probable cause report.


The Marysville man died Saturday, June 9.


Before Knechtel’s death, prosecutors charged Balch with first-degree assault and second-degree assault in Clallam County Superior Court. Balch pleaded not guilty June 8 and was released from jail after a Port Angeles couple posted two lots of land for a $50,000 property bail bond. Under court order, Balch must be placed on electronic home monitoring and wear an alcohol-monitoring bracelet.


Balch has two previous convictions in Superior Court, including a felony burglary conviction from April 2011.


A King County medical examiner performed an autopsy on Knechtel on June 11 and the results will be reviewed by the Clallam County Prosecutor’s Office for consideration of additional charges.


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