RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — An Army veteran beaten by a man he met at a bar died Saturday afternoon, nearly a week after being hospitalized with burns so bad that parts of both arms had to be amputated, police and his partner said.
Veteran Stephen Patrick White, 46, died at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, authorities said.
Greensboro Police spokeswoman Susan Danielsen confirmed the death when contacted by The Associated Press. She said a 26-year-old man, Garry Joseph Gupton, has now been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the beating last Sunday. A Greensboro city employee, Gupton had initially been charged with aggravated assault with intent to kill, according to police.
Danielsen has said there was no indication the incident was motivated by the sexuality of the victim.
"We believe this was a consensual encounter between the two of them, and at some point Mr. Gupton began acting incredibly irrational," Danielsen had said recently.
Alex Teal, White's longtime partner, had previously told AP White had most of both arms amputated after he was severely burned in a hotel room that caught fire during the Nov. 9 attack.
He said White, who had been listed in critical condition, had made some small improvements earlier in the week.
"Yesterday, he had a good day ... I gave him applesauce. He drank water, and he was doing good. His blood pressure was fine. Everything was fine Friday, everything was fine," Teal told AP by phone late Saturday.
But Teal said White's health deteriorated early Saturday, when he had to be put on a ventilator, and that White died about 3 p.m.
Jim Olive, a bartender at the Chemistry Nightclub in Greensboro, had said earlier in the week that he had seen White and Gupton leave together in a cab around closing time early on Nov. 9. About 4:30 a.m. that Sunday, an employee at Greensboro's Battleground Inn called 911 to report a man screaming. Around the same time, the fire alarm also was tripped.
Police said Gupton was arrested and the hotel had to be evacuated. Firefighters found White unconscious and badly burned in a fourth-floor room.
Public Defender Wayne T. Baucino said he met Gupton for the first time Friday. He declined to comment on the case.
Gupton had not entered a plea earlier and an earlier $250,000 bond has been revoked, according to Gilford County jail records posted online late Saturday. His next scheduled court appearance is Dec. 10.
Guilford County Assistant District Attorney Howard Newman said recently that it appeared White was struck with a telephone, television and another small piece of furniture. He said the fire appeared to have been intentionally set.
Chemistry and another bar were holding fundraisers Saturday night to help cover White's treatment. But following White's death, organizers said the proceeds would be given to the man's family.
Teal said White served in the Army during the late 1980s, then spent several years with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Air Marshal Service. He worked as a security contractor in Iraq in 2005 when he suffered severe injuries in a blast, Teal said.