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Man Admits Guilt in Beating Death Plea Consoles Jazz Great's Kin Print-ready version

by James F. McCarty
Miami Herald
November 8, 1988

A Wilton Manors nightclub manager pleaded guilty Monday in the beating death of jazz great Jaco Pastorius.

A plea bargain allowed Luc Havan, 26, of Oakland Park, to plead guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter in return for a sentence of 21 months in prison and five years' probation. Broward Circuit Judge M. Daniel Futch Jr. scheduled Havan's sentencing for Dec. 5.

Havan, a native of Vietnam, could have spent life in prison if convicted of the original charge of second-degree murder, but prosecutors said conflicting evidence weakened the case. Family members of Pastorius were consulted and approved the agreement, said assistant state attorney Lee J. Seidman.

Ingrid Pastorius of Deerfield Beach, the victim's former wife, said Havan's admission of guilt was more important to her than the severity of his punishment.

"I feel this man pleaded guilty from the heart," she said. "As the mother of Jaco's two sons, I feel good that I can tell them there's a man who admitted hitting and killing their father. So I can live with this deal."

The jazz great was born John Francis Pastorius III -- Jaco since his youth in Fort Lauderdale. Once an altar boy, Pastorius graduated in 1969 from Northeast High School in Oakland Park, where he was voted most talented in his class.

In 1976, Pastorius emerged as the preeminent bass guitar player in the jazz business, touring and recording with Blood, Sweat and Tears, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock and Weather Report. He was nominated for three Grammy Awards.

But, in the last five years of his life, Pastorius sank into a world of booze and drugs, living on the streets and running into trouble with the law.

On Sept. 11, Pastorius, 35, jumped onstage at the Sunrise Musical Theatre during a Carlos Santana concert. He was thrown off. Later that night, Pastorius turned up at the Midnight Bottle Club in Wilton Manors, where he was blocked from entering. According to police, Pastorius kicked the door in frustration. Havan, the club manager, came running out.

Havan contended he only pushed Pastorius, who fell, his head striking the concrete. Police contended that Havan viciously beat Pastorius -- a suspicion confirmed by a post- mortem exam that found the musician's massive head injuries were caused by a fist, not a fall. He lay in a coma for nine days before dying.

Before his death, Pastorius' family and friends had dreamed of a musical comeback.

"The last time I saw Jaco he was drinking tea with his brother Greg," said Johanna Springer, a longtime friend. "It seemed like he was really getting himself together. He had so much to offer. He was just beginning."

Ingrid Pastorius, who remained close to Jaco after their 1985 divorce, said she expected him to rebound.

"A lot of musicians who have gone through periods like that came out of it," she said. "Look at Miles Davis and Brian Wilson. I think Jaco would have come out of it, too, but he never had a chance."

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