3 Plead Guilty in Fatal Ballpark Beating

Surprise guilty pleas come out Tuesday after a mistrial was declared for the fatal beating at Citizens Bank Park in July 2009.

The three men accused of beating a man to death in a fight outside Citizens Bank Park in July 2009 pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and conspiracy charges.

The three men could be sentenced to 40 years in prison and fined $50,000, Common Please Judge Shelley Robins said after accepting the “open” guilty pleas Tuesday.

The guilty pleas were unexpected, as a mistrial was declared for all three last month.

David Sale, 22, was beaten to death while attending a friend’s bachelor party inside the ballpark. A fight broke out in a parking lot, over a spilled beer, between the members of the bachelor party and a group that was part of a bar tour from Fishtown.

Frank Kirchner, 28, Charles Bowers, 35, and James Groves, 45, were charged with Sale's death. Sale was held down and Kirchner allegedly took a running start to land the final blow to David Sale’s limp and bleeding body.

The mistrial was declared in September after a prosecution witness and friend of the victim “blurted out” that 30-year-old defendant Frances Kirchner as the person who delivered the fatal blow. The witness was not technically an “identity witness” for the trial.

Sentencing for Kirchner, Bowers and Groves is set for Dec. 20.

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