Four of the five men facing aggravated battery charges in connection with the downtown beating of a 21-year-old man early Saturday are Fort Benning soldiers.
The fifth soldier is assigned to Fort McPherson in Atlanta, said Jennifer Gunn, public affairs officer.
Raymond E. Crowder III, 20; Shawn H. Kaverman, 26; Tyler Browning, 20; Dillon Fisher, 25; and Nathan J. Smajda, 23, face charges in connection with the beating of Eric Gutliph, a 21-year-old former Benning soldier.
Crowder is stationed at Fort McPherson, Gunn said.
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The alleged beating happened about 2:30 a.m. at First Avenue and 10th Street. Police said four of the men jumped out of a white Chevy Avalanche and assaulted Gutliph, who was returning to his vehicle.
According to police, Fisher threw the first punch. He testified at a Columbus Recorder’s Court hearing a few hours after his arrest that he’s had previous “altercations” with the victim.
Gutliph was hospitalized with several injuries, including a broken nose, several cuts to his face, a swollen eye and possible bleeding in the brain, police said.
“I’m doing a little better,” Gutliph said from his hospital room Sunday. “Making a little better progress.”
Gutliph said he may be able to leave the hospital Monday.
“I’ve still got big cuts and bruises, a laceration to my right eye lid,” he said.
Gutliph said he has almost no recollection of what led to his injuries, and added he did not know any of the suspects by name.
Each man pleaded not guilty to the charges in Recorder’s Court on Saturday. Judge Cynthia Maisano found probable cause and bound the cases over to Muscogee County Superior Court.
Browning posted a $5,000 bond Saturday and was released, as was Crowder. Kaverman posted a $5,212 bond and also was released, jail officials said.
Fisher and Smajda remained in jail Sunday.
“The Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning has built a great relationship with Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley region” said Gary Jones, public affairs officer. “It is my hope that this incident does not adversely affect the bond we have worked so hard on,” Jones said.