WOBURN -- A 29-year-old Ayer man accused of punching a former friend who fell backward, struck his head, and died of a head injury, will remain on house arrest at his sister's home in Chelmsford.
Matthew Kurz, of Ayer, has been free on personal recognizance since his Sept. 5 arraignment in Ayer District Court on assault charges.
Maxwell Fleming, 23, of Ayer, died two days after Kurz's initial arraignment. His death led prosecutors to obtain an indictment charging Kurz with manslaughter last month.
Kurz spoke softly as he pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter charge Friday morning in Middlesex Superior Court.
Police reports say Kurz admitted to throwing a "haymaker" punch at Fleming during an incident at the Fredonian Nature Center in Shirley on Aug. 31, when the two men met to discuss Kurz's behavior toward Fleming's girlfriend.
"Matthew said that one punch ruined two lives," Shirley police Detective Olivia Siekman wrote in a report.
Fleming said he believed Kurz had acted inappropriately toward his girlfriend in a Snapchat conversation, and that he later pulled the woman's hair, according to police reports.
Kurz denied inappropriate behavior, and agreed to meet with Fleming in Shirley to discuss the matter, according to police reports.
Witnesses told police Kurz threw one punch that landed on Fleming's jaw and knocked Fleming backward, according to police reports. Fleming struck his head on a concrete step as he fell, and ended up unconscious, according to a police report.
Fleming was taken to Nashoba Valley Medical Center, and then transferred by helicopter to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. He died on Sept. 7, according to police reports and Fleming's obituary.
Kurz told Siekman he threw the punch because Fleming had clenched his hands into fists as Kurz approached, according to a police report.
Several members of Fleming's family who attended Kurz's arraignment Friday declined to comment as they left the courtroom.
Fleming's father, Robert Fleming, of Ayer, has described his son as "a good guy," in an interview with Boston25 news.
The elder Fleming said his son was a great fisherman, animal lover and talented artist, according to Boston25.
Fleming worked at Valley Design Company in Shirley, according to his death.
Assistant District Attorney Christopher Tarrant requested that Kurz continue to be subject to the conditions of release imposed at his district court arraignment,. Kurz's attorney, Joanne Daley, did not object.
Clerk-Magistrate Matthew Day agreed, and released Kurz on personal recognizance. Day ordered Kurz to remain on house arrest at his sister's home in Chelmsford, and to remain inside the home from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Kurz is allowed out of the home at other times for medical appointments, legal meetings and work. He must remain employed, wear a GPS device that tracks his location, and another device that ensures he remains drug- and alcohol-free.
Day also ordered Kurz to stay away from and have no contact with Fleming's family or any witnesses in the case.
Daley said she may later request some modification of those conditions. She said she has not yet seen the report on Fleming's death from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and declined further comment.
Kurz is due back in court on Jan. 30, when he has a hearing in Middlesex Superior Court in Lowell.
In his interview with Siekman, Kurz expressed remorse and described Fleming as a friend.
"Matthew became upset and had started crying as he spoke about how bad he feels knowing that Maxwell is laid up in a hospital bed having parts of his skull removed," Siekman wrote in her report on the interview conducted before Fleming's death. "Matthew told me they were friends and that they have gone fishing together and he never would have wanted something like this to happen."
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