A 34-year-old man was sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison on Friday for fatally punching a tourist last year on the Strip.
Brandon Leath pleaded guilty in January to felony counts of voluntary manslaughter and mayhem.
On Feb. 28, 2021, Leath punched 57-year-old Thomas Driscoll of Chicopee, Massachusetts, one time outside Bally’s.
Driscoll, a former officer with the Connecticut State Police, died at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center of a blunt force cranciocervical injury, or an injury near the base of the skull, the Clark County coroner’s office has said.
On Friday, District Judge Michelle Leavitt sentenced Leath to between eight and 20 years in prison.
“What is so clear here is this wasn’t an accident. This wasn’t just bad luck,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Dickerson said during the sentencing hearing. “The defendant was seeking out this confrontation. He was seeking out this fight.”
Leath was talking to a group of men on a pedestrian bridge between The Cromwell and Bally’s when Driscoll, walking with another woman, passed by them. Leath made a comment about Driscoll and the woman walking through the group, and seconds later he ran after the two, according to his arrest report.
While walking after Driscoll, he kept challenging him to a fight, Dickerson said.
He waited at the bottom of an escalator for Driscoll and the woman, set his backpack down and “took a fighting stance,” the report said. Driscoll walked toward Leath, and Leath threw one punch, knocking the other man to the ground.
Mace Yampolsky, Leath’s defense attorney, said Friday that Leath had punched Driscoll after the other man raised a beer bottle in a “threatening manner”
“I think it’s unfortunate that he was sentenced to the maximum,” Yampolsky said following Friday’s hearing, adding that Leath was not accused of using a deadly weapon during the confrontation.
Leath told the judge that he had been asking people on the bridge to use a phone because he had lost his luggage. He said that at the bottom of the escalator, he tried to back up to avoid a confrontation with Driscoll.
“In that moment I didn’t know what else to do,” Leath said.
Leath was a registered boxer in New York, Dickerson said Friday. Days before attacking Driscoll, Leath was captured on surveillance footage punching a man in a 7-Eleven, knocking him out.
He also has a history of arrests on suspicion of assault, and has been convicted of six felonies, most out of New Jersey on theft and stolen property charges, Dickerson said. In December 2020, he pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit pandering in Clark County, court records show.
Driscoll’s family members on Friday described him as a shy, hardworking man who loved to travel and hike. At the time of his death, Driscoll was in Las Vegas preparing to hike the Pacific Coast Trail.
Brian Hsia told the judge that Driscoll helped raise him and his younger brother. Growing up, Driscoll took Hsia to his lacrosse games and taught him to shave, and he dreamed of taking Hsia’s future children fishing one day.
Driscoll’s death felt like a “betrayal by humanity,” Hsia said.
“A hollow void has overcome our hearts this past year, that no amount of remorse or shallow apologies will fix,” he said.