Man Pleads Guilty to Killing at Waffle House

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) –  Wiping away tears, 22-year-old Dustin Horton admitted to causing the death of Scott Drago in Muscogee County Superior Court Monday.

Horton, from Seale, AL, opted out of a murder trial, pleading guilty to the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter in an agreement with the state.

Last June, prosecutors say Horton and the victim had a heated exchange of words in the parking lot of the Waffle House on Veterans Parkway.

According to the state, tensions diffused and the conversation turned friendly when out of the blue, Horton punched Drago in the face. The single blow sent him to the pavement where he hit his head, leaving him with a fractured skull and severe brain damage. He died a short time later.

Assistant District Attorney on the case David Helmick declined an interview after Monday's proceedings as did the victim's family but Helmick tells Fox 54: "It's just a tragedy all in all."

In court, Horton told the victim's family he is tremendously sorry. His words convinced the judge he didn't mean to or plan to murder the former sheriff's deputy. But in the end, the judge told Horton he did cause Drago's death.

"No one intended for the result that came about to be the result. I think that the charge that my client entered the plea to and the sentence were appropriate given the unique facts of this case. It was not a murder case. It was an involuntary manslaughter case and that is why the law was written for just this unusual situation," said Horton's attorney, Frank Martin.

Senior Superior Court Judge Tracy Moulton sentenced Dustin Horton to the maximum of 10 years on his involuntary manslaughter charge which he will serve in a Georgia State Penitentiary.

The young father will be 32 years old when he is released from prison. Scott Drago was 36 when he died.