Fight between two homeless men over stolen wallet in downtown Austin ends in death

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Police have arrested a homeless man they say was involved in a fight that ended with another man dead in downtown Austin over the Fourth of July.

Authorities responded to a call of a disturbance between two homeless men at the 100 block of Fifth Street, near Congress Avenue, at 5:22 p.m. Police say witnesses were performing CPR on an unresponsive man lying on the sidewalk as they arrived.

Detectives say witnesses identified the suspect as 63-year-old Robert Batiste.

Witnesses say they saw Batiste chasing after another man and yelling for him to give back his wallet. They say when Batiste caught up, he threw the man to the ground and began assaulting him. Batiste reportedly was pulling the man’s arms behind him as he lay face down on the pavement and then started choking the victim.

A man who saw the attack close-up says the victim’s face started turning dark grey and that his legs were flailing to get free. Then the witness says, the victim stopped moving altogether. The witness says he yelled at Batiste, “You killed him!”, to which Batiste reportedly responded, “I don’t give a god****.”

Footage allegedly shows the altercation, according to court documents.

Inside the wallet, police found Batiste’s Social Security Card, which they say proved the wallet was indeed Batiste’s.

Although Austin-Travis County EMS tried to resuscitate the victim, he was pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m. at Dell Seton Medical Center.

The Travis County Medical Examiner says the manner of death is a homicide and was more than likely due to positional asphyxiation related to restraint. Investigators say the victim’s identity is still unknown.

Batiste was arrested and is charged with second degree manslaughter.

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