ST. MARYS, W.Va. —The state Parole Board granted parole Wednesday to a Delaware man who was convicted after a 2009 fight that left Ryan Diviney, a student at West Virginia University, in a coma.

File photo

Austin Vantrease was granted parole Wednesday by the state Parole Board.

The board agreed that Austin Vantrease, 23, should be released after serving four years behind bars. He was granted ‘deferred parole’ until corrections officials in the state of Delaware can approve his home plan.

Vantrease and co-defendant Jonathan May were charged in connection with the Nov. 2009 fight that happened near the Willey Street Dairy Mart in Morgantown. Vantrease was sentenced after his July 2010 conviction to 2-10 years for malicious assault. He kicked Diviney in the head after he had fallen to the ground. May, who threw the initial punch, was in jail for seven months.

Vantrease would have likely been released from prison next year after serving half of his sentence and that release would have included no supervision. Ryan Diviney’s father, Ken Diviney, said he wasn’t shocked at the board’s decision because members wanted to maintain some control over Vantrease.

“I think they were so concerned about him being in society that they wanted to maintain that sort of supervision over him,” Diviney said.

Diviney added he had no concern for Vantrease personally but did have concern for anyone that he confronted in a convenience store parking lot in the future.

Vantrease has been serving time at the St. Marys Correctional Center. Three members of the parole board held a hearing there Wednesday.

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  • Mr.P

    The whole judical system in this country is PATHETIC!!

  • Mr.P

    Unbelievable Just,Unbelievable!!

  • wvu999

    Sad what happened but from what I read he was belligerent to everyone that came into contact with. Drinking and doing drugs then challenging everyone he came into contact with that night in to both physical and verbal altercations.
    I know his parents are upset but he sort of brought the fight on himself. He was the aggressor at first.
    Sad but be careful when you play with fire

    • Jonus Grumby

      Brought it on himself? Really? Try reading the article before posting such an asinine statement. Mr. Vigilante's co-defendant, Jonathan May, threw the first punch. How is that bringing it on himself? Wise up, dude.

      • wvu999

        You're right
        Your buddy is totally innocent
        Probably just out trying to find a study buddy for an upcoming exam

        • barbara

          Actually, if we are going by your opinion, which is that running your mouth is a good reason to kick someone who is already down in the head, does that mean that if one of his friends or family were to find where you live then its ok if one of them punches you then another one kicks you in your head and puts you in a coma then its just all good right? I mean after all what you are saying could be considered"trash talk" since any real research shows that the website you quoted is a load of malarky. That boy wasn't drunk or under the influence of drugs which is the story you are backing. No, I do not know thst boy or any of his family. I've never been to Morgantown, but quite frankly I was raised to believe that just because someone says something to piss you off is no reason to do physical harm to another human being. Maybe that's the real difference between you and the rest of thepeople on here.

    • Janice

      He brought this on himself? Seriously? You seriously think anybody deserves to be (in a sense) living dead? No matter how many bad decisions that were made the worst one was made by Austin. He kicked a man that was down and out. Where was Ryan a threat when he was on the ground? He deserves to be in prison. I have seen his whole family on video. They are all loud and belligerent. He was raised to be a bully.
      Nobody deserves to live the way Ryan is living. And you should be ashamed of yourself for saying it.

      • wvu999

        No one does you're right
        But don't come on here and act like the guy is totally innocent
        He was out drunk talking trash to several people after 3 am
        Im sure the dudes didn't mean to try to kill him either
        Bad decisions across the board fueled by booze and possibly drugs

    • RedGal

      And where is your information that he was "doing drugs"? Seriously? You have to be a Vantrease supporter. SMH

      • wvu999

        On November 7, 2009 at 3:11am, two groups of drunken teenagers crossed paths in the Dairy Mart parking lot on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. One group consisted of Austin Vantrease, Jonathan May, Colin McKeefery, Brandon Groux, Alex Woods, Tyler Husfelt, Jessica Guay, and Jordan Lauderman. The other group consisted of Ryan Diviney, Brian McLhinney, and Tyler Johnson.

        After drinking underage in a club for several hours and smoking marijuana for an hour at a neighbor's house (admitted by Tyler Johnson), Ryan Diviney and friends decided on a late-night trip to the Dairy Mart. Ryan was “smack-talking people on the street... just being belligerent,” said Johnson in a sworn deposition. “I was suspecting trouble mainly because of how Ryan had been acting all night.”

        A verbal argument over the World Series began as the two groups of drunk teenagers passed each other, but both parties continued walking in opposite directions. As shown on the Dairy Mart’s surveillance video, Ryan Diviney turned around and walked back toward the other group. Witnesses say Diviney then challenged Colin McKeefery to a fight, “one on one.”

        Jonathan May punched Ryan Diviney in response to the challenge, and chaos erupted. Austin Vantrease began wrestling with Brian McLhinney. Testimony reveals that Ryan Diviney was coming to assist his friend Brian, approaching Austin from behind. Jonathon May ran several yards to intercept Ryan, punching him with such force that his feet flew out from under him. Ryan fell on his back striking the back of his head on a raised metal grate in the parking lot. Austin Vantrease broke off with Brian McLhinney, spun around, and kicked Ryan Diviney once in the jaw.

        The entire physical altercation took place in less than 20 seconds. Everyone, including Ryan’s friends, ran away. As teenagers, their biggest fear was getting charged with underage consumption. No one imagined that such a short commotion could possibly result in the catastrophic brain injury from which Ryan Diviney now suffers.

        The same scenario can take place anytime, anywhere, and to anyone who is fueled by alcohol, drugs and ego. ALL the boys were guilty of bad decisions. The tragic injury that occurred to Ryan Diviney was a horrible accident that has changed many lives, forever.

        I don't know or support any of them. Unlike you all i read all of this with an open mind
        No threats with playing with fire but when you try to fight several people eventually someone acting as stupid as you, you will get burnt

        • Duh

          That website is was created and maintained by vantrease's family to show his side. Where I come from we get our information from testimony under oath and evidence submitted to the courts. Interesting how they describe in great detail the sucker punch by May and it's subsequent damage and downplayed vantrease's single kick. This is his family's desperate attempt to portray vantrease as innocent. I believe in evidence.

        • RedGal

          Nice. That entire scenario is from a website published by the Vantrease clan in an attempt to diminish what he did, deflect the responsibility to Ryan and gain sympathy for his parole hearing last year. Ryan's toxicology report was negative. Austin punted his head like a football when he was down on the ground, then hid behind a dumpster before leaving him for dead. You are defending a bullying, malcontent, criminal (and his equally worthless family) with no remorse or sense of social responsibility. He's only expressed an apology in front of the parole board, never directly to the family, and neither has his family, nor has he or them ever paid court ordered restitution to the Divineys. Unless you count the very small amount he earned while incarcerated. They've even attempted to go after donations to Ryan's care to reduce the amount of money Austin is responsible for. So, please, just stop. You are defending low-life, sub-human trash.

        • Robert

          Ryan Diviney's toxicology report tested negative for all drugs, including the marijuana they claimed he was smoking. If you are going by what the perpetrator's family published, don't bother posting.

        • Ron - from Morgantown

          Busted . Site is a garbage site designed to get him paroled . I guess it worked .

          • william

            @wvu999 -
            I always wondered why your wife left just before midnight!

          • wvu999

            Whatever Ron says is the truth

            I'm sure both groups were being well behaved at 311 am

            It's sad and no way you can say anyone is free of guilt in those case

            That's why my wife and I have a midnight rule home by midnight

        • Jason412


          Much like yourself, I have no stake in this. But do you realize that is a website that is completely put together by either Vantrease's family or someone hired by his family?

          They couldn't be trying to sell his desperate need to be paroled any harder. On the "Accountability" page they have a picture of a document showing he's paid $44 dollars to his $102,000 restitution.

          I'm reading some of Tyler Johnson's deposition now, but it's hard to look at with an open mind when they have the parts that incriminate Diviney highlighted in yellow.

    • Ron - from Morgantown

      Make no mistake the only bum in this story is Austin . Make no mistake the only punk in this story is Austin . Make no mistake the only idiot in this story is Austin . Did you testify at the trial? ,is your warped interpretation part of the official record ? Because I don't see any of your revisionist history in any court documents . What is your name ? I'd be glad to check all your records , especially if you want to add anything important to this case . Play with fire ? That sounds like a threat .

      • JS

        Sounds like you are about to lose control. That would make you as bad as you like Austin. You honestly think anyone thought the fight that took a total of 20 seconds would result in the injuries Ryan received? Ever get into a fight? Were you intoxicated? Did you think about your actions clearly and what would result?

        • Ron - from Morgantown

          Don't believe the fiction written above , trust the sworn testimony given under oath in a court room . Its on the internet , it must be true , right ?

          • JS

            Good point Ron.

  • hailey

    Let this sink in "our government" is more interested in changing the name of the Wahsington Redskins than properly punishing and supporting a family who has suffered from this outrageous act.

    We have allowed our country to be ran self serving scum, rather than a system structured to enforce true justice. This is sickening at the highest level.

    • Jen

      This situation is tragic. On every level. Please don't make it a political issue, which overshadows the real issue, the violence done to Ryan. I am disgusted that VanTrease is getting out. But Ken was absolutely right when he said that the Parole Board actually wanted to keep Austin under their supervision for as long as possible.

  • Baldeagle

    If Diviney should expire, God forbid, can they rearrest Vantrease and charge him with murder?

    • Ron - from Morgantown

      No , too much time has elapsed

      • Jason412


        I believe that to be false. There is no statute of limitations on homicide.

        • Ron - from Morgantown

          I wish it were true , but in this case they can't be charged with murder . Trust me, I'd love to see it happen should something happen to Ryan . But here is the problem - if a murder takes place and the police can't find the killer then a warrant for the crime is active into perpetuity . No statute of limitation for murder warrants . But in this case they weren't charged with murder and its been 4 yrs + and Ryan is still with us . So as you can see at this point a cause and effect would be difficult to prove .

          • barbara

            Actually, because they were never charged for his murder, it may be possible for the prosecutors to charge him with homicide if he dies as a result of the injuries inflicted on him by that p.o.s. he can't even cry double jepardy because he was never charged with homicide.

          • Shadow

            I don't trust your opinion as no murder has occurred YET. If he dies as a result of the kick, that would be murder and no statue of limitations.

  • WVgurl

    He is a rotten no good coward he waited until the guy was already laying on the ground and then put his two dents in. How was that "provoking Austin", to kick him about the head? Cause he is a sniveling lil coward and the only way he could take a shot is if a guy is on the ground already knocked out. Yeah, real Manly D***HEAD

  • Mary Marteny

    I agree that he should have to pay for his care and medical expenses. But I personally wouldn't want Vantrease near my family.

  • Jake

    Part of the boys parole needs to be served taking care of this man and his everyday needs. This may help him understand exactly what he has taken from Ryan. He should have to provide at least 6 months of 24hr care for Ryan!!!

    • Rick

      Excellent idea!

  • El Supremo

    How does one go about replacing a parole board?

  • RedGal

    This makes me sad and angry. He should have had to serve the maximum, but given that wasn't going to happen, at least 5 years. Personally, I believe that for every year Ryan Diviney is in a vegetative state and his family has to endure the endless pain Vantrease has caused, he should remain incarcerated. If you've followed the story, you'll quickly catch on that Vantrease's family consistently blames Ryan for Austin's actions. So, none of them, Austin included, have fully accepted responsibility for his heinous behavior. Truly a disservice to the Diviney family. And to add insult to injury, neither boy (May or Vantrease) have even begun to pay restitution for the disaster they caused. POS, both of them.

    • Ron - from Morgantown

      In a 2 to 10 , the max is 5 years , because in Wv you get a day for a day . That's why May only served 7 months .

  • MGD

    How is this not murder? Ryan has no life outside of a hospital bed because of Austin's actions. Mr. Vantrease should have been convicted for murder and released upon the full recovery of Mr. Diviney. If Ryan never recovers Austin never sees the light of day. My prayers to the Diviney family and for Ryan's recovery; I have two sons and tears well in my eyes at the thought of anything ever happening to them. I can't even fathom the pain they must endure daily. Our justice system is a complete failure.

    • Jen

      Agreed. That is a more appropriate sentence.

  • Ron - from Morgantown

    What a joke . He should have served the full sentence. He would have been released next year anyway but he should have served that final year behind bars . This idiot kicked a defenseless Ryan in the head like a soccer ball . What a coward . Ryan was ambushed by several people and knocked to the ground by May , then the coward Austin proceeded to kick Ryan in the head for several minutes as Ryan lay defenseless on the ground . What a punk . I don't know how he could be released early by the parole board. Austin took Ryan's life liberty and his pursuit of happiness . My only hope is that the state of Deleware is forced to deal with this bum and he never returns to West Va.

    • WVgurl

      be nice to see him go home to Delaware and get the crap kicked out of him just the way he did Ryan, should be hard they all now he's a low life coward NOW!!!

  • Don

    .....and just think, if he could play football he would have gotten out even earlier.

  • Not Justice

    Disappointed in the parole approval, the punishment does not fit the violent committed...his max of 10 years in not enough, and yet after serving 4 short years, he walks away, the Diviney's have a life sentence, which is what Vantrease deserved.

    Next, please watch for Matthew Vieth's parole, he needs to stay in jail, 2-10 for DUI w/ death (we like to call it vehicular manslaughter) and Matthew was on his 3rd DUI and under 21...

    Justice system is broken....

    • George

      This is a sad day. That worthless you guy you see in the picture kicked an unconscious man while he bled on the ground with a severe injury. He represents a brutal yet cowardice type of waste that is similar to what you'll find in Muslim countries, or our own ghettos. 10 years, shame on you parole board, shame on all of us.

      • R Johnson

        @George "...similar to what you'll find in Muslim countries, or our own ghettos." This took place in our country as it does all too often. Let's not pretend 'we' don't mistreat/kill/maim each other.

      • George

        10 years was the max. That was low enough, but 4? Pathetic.

  • Unbelievable