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Police Won't Pursue Charges Against Bar That Served Manslaughter Suspect

Middletown Police don't have enough evidence to charge the Hair of the Dog Saloon bartender or owner with the sale of liquor to an intoxicated person.

Middletown Police will not pursue criminal charges against the owner or bartender of the , which served beer to one of the two men charged with second-degree manslaughter in the July 24 death of 20-year-old Alexander Martinez of Meriden, according to Lt. Heather Desmond.

The warrants state that 36-year-old Stephen M. Tyrseck of Durham had been drinking to excess at the Middletown bar at 544 Main Street just before he got behind the wheel of his 2008 Ford F350 pickup and collided with a 2002 Honda Civic driven by Jedidiah Roesler, 22, of Meriden at Highland Avenue and South Main Street at 2:25 a.m.

“Mr. Roesler’s blood alcohol content of .182 and Mr. Tyrseck’s blood alcohol content of .269 caused the death of Mr. Alexander Martinez,” the warrant states.

Tyrseck is a firefighter in Middletown on paid administrative leave.

Middletown Police have sent a referral to the state Liquor Control Division, Director John Suchy confirmed. His department will consult the police file and conduct a follow-up review and interviews to determine if administrative charges will be filed. Suchy said that process “could take a long time,” but would not elaborate.

Possible actions are “license revocation, suspension, a civil penalty or fine, or any combination,” Suchy said.

Tyrseck and Roesler are charged with second-degree manslaughter, misconduct with a motor vehicle, negligent homicide, reckless driving, operation under the influence of alcohol, and traveling at an unreasonable speed. Roesler is additionally charged with failure to grant right of way.

Under Connecticut's liquor law, a bartender or permittee who sells alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person and is convicted can face up to a $1,000 fine or one year in prison. Walter J. Stojack III is the owner and permittee of the Hair of the Dog, which opened in 2005. His liquor license is active through December 2012.

Ironically, the bar has held several fundraisers for Tyrseck’s cousin Kim Tyrseck, 24, of Portland, who was critically injured by a repeat drunk driver Feb. 24 while crossing the street at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. She was a bartender at the Portland Restaurant and a 2005 Portland High School graduate.

“We don’t look at criminal charges because we are a regulatory agency,” Suchy said.

A bartender told police Tyrseck entered the saloon July 23 between 10 and 11 p.m., bought three to four Bud Light beers and left between 1 and 1:30 a.m. on July 24. “Steve Tyrseck was not stumbling, staggering or slurring his words … He was not outwardly intoxicated,” the bartender told police, according to the warrant.

However, surveillance video obtained by police shows Tyrseck inside at 10:55 p.m. and leaving at 2:09 a.m. The video showed “Tyrseck drink what appeared to be six, 12-ounce bottles of an alcoholic beverage.”

“The video showed him swaying, holding on to furniture, and stumble. Additionally, he was very demonstrative and flailing his arms when he spoke to other patrons. He  appeared to be very jovial,” the warrant states.

A witness said she saw him try the door of at 2:15 a.m., found it was locked, then “fall into the building by the entrance to the Hair of the Dog saloon.”

Second-degree manslaughter is a felony punishable by one to 10 years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine, or both. The court must also suspend the person's driver's license for one year and prohibit the person from driving any motor vehicle without an ignition interlock device for two years.

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