The two men who were involved in the fatal altercation outside The Patio bar in downtown Palo Alto on Dec. 21, 2014, made their first court appearance on Tuesday morning since the death of the 24-year-old man who died several weeks after the fight.
Neil Brian Rotroff, who police said punched Oleg Talamai, outside the Emerson Street bar, and a Sunnyvale resident*, who drove the group away from the scene, both appeared in the Palo Alto courthouse Tuesday.
This was their first appearance since Jan. 9, when Talamai succumbed to the injuries that police said he sustained after he was punched in the head by Rotroff. Talamai, who was part of a group that engaged in an argument with Rotroff's group, never woke up from the punch and was pronounced dead almost three weeks after the confrontation.
Neither Rotroff, 28, nor the Sunnyvale man said anything during Tuesday's hearing. Through their attorneys, they waived their rights to a preliminary investigation within 60 days of their arrest. Both are now set to appear in court for a plea hearing on March 24.
Rotroff, who initially faced a charge of assault with a deadly weapon, now faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter. The Sunnyvale man faces charges of assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon for allegedly driving his car past two police officers and nearly hitting them. He was also charged with a felony count of accessory to involuntary manslaughter for his role as a getaway driver.
The altercation outside the Patio bar allegedly happened after the two groups engaged in an argument but were ultimately separated by police officers. Later, as the two groups were leaving in different directions, they reportedly exchanged insults, prompting Rotroff's group to confront them once again.
The altercation ended with Rotroff landing a single punch to Talamai's head, knocking him to the ground. Talamai, 24, suffered a fractured skull and bleeding in his brain.
Both Rotroff and the Sunnyvale man posted bail after their arrest and have been out of custody since.