10 Years Ago: Lamb of God Vocalist Randy Blythe Arrested in Prague and Accused of Manslaughter
Lamb of God frontman Randy Blythe had no reason to expect anything was awry when the plane he and his bandmates were in landed at Ruzyně Airport in Prague, Czech Republic on June 27, 2012. Three days prior, Lamb of God performed at the Gods of Metal festival in Fiero Milano, Rho, Italy, and they were excited to return to Prague for the first time since May 24, 2010.
As the musicians disembarked the plane and headed into the airport they were surrounded by policemen armed with machine guns and told to get down on the ground. After singling out Blythe, they handcuffed him and hauled him away.
Blythe was taken to prison, and in the hours that followed, he was accused of causing the death of a 19-year-old fan, Daniel Nosek, who was at the band’s Prague show two years earlier. The young adult had climbed onstage and when he tumbled back into the crowd, his head struck the ground and he suffered internal injuries. Nosek later fell into a coma and died. During a police investigation, eyewitnesses who were interviewed insisted that Blythe had shoved Nosek off the stage. The Czech press granted Blythe no leniency. One paper claimed he had punched Nosek before maliciously shoving him from the stage.
Unaware of the negative press, Blythe and the rest of the band were dumbfounded by the Kafka-esque scene that took place when Blythe was arrested, accused of manslaughter and taken to Pankrác Prison. On June 29, the police announced that they had formally charged Blythe under section 146(4) of the Czech Criminal Code, claiming the singer intentionally injured Nosek and ultimately caused his death. If guilty, he was facing between five and 10 years in prison.
The next day, the State Attorney filed a motion to keep Blythe in custody after determining that the vocalist was a flight risk. A few hours later, Judge Petr Fassati of the city’s Eighth District Court set the possibility — not the guarantee — of bail at the equivalent of $200,000. Lamb of God’s management and attorneys tried to pay the money right away, but the money was not deposited into the court bank account until July 3. During that time, Blythe sat in prison, awaiting the next step of the process. Under Czech law, once the bank received the bail money the State Attorney had three days to decide to accept the bail and let Blythe go until the trial or to challenge it with a written complaint. Because national holidays caused the courts to close for three days, the attorney didn’t file his complaint to the appellate court, the Prague Municipal Court, until July 9.
Then, the bureaucratic delays began. On July 17, a full 19 days after he was arrested, three judges on Prague’s Municipal Court sided with the State Attorney and doubled the amount of Blythe’s bail to $400,000. In addition, the State Attorney filed a motion that would have forced Blythe to stay in the Czech Republic and possibly regularly report to the equivalent of a parole officer until the trial was held.
The appellate court rejected the request to remand Blythe and on Aug. 2 it ordered the prison to release the singer, since he had complied with the law and paid bail. Blythe returned the U.S. the next day, but promised he would return to face trial. While the accusation of manslaughter was flimsy at best and Blythe easily could have immediately extricated himself from the situation by never returning to the Czech Republic, he remained true to his word and returned to Prague.
Blythe’s manslaughter trial began on Feb. 4, 2013 and lasted for six days. During his testimony, the singer told the panel of judges that he is nearsighted and performs without glasses so he didn’t see exactly who came onstage from the crowd. But he said that at the 2010 Prague show a fan clambered onto the stage and waved his hands around — hardly a rarity at metal shows — and Blythe shoved him back into the crowd. He returned the stage and tried to hug Blythe. Perceiving the man as a threat, Blythe grabbed the fan and led him to the edge of the stage, where he jumped off. Soon after, Nosek climbed up on the stage. Blythe believed him to be the same stage diver he had previously confronted, so he pushed Nosek offstage, assuming the crowd would catch him. Tragically, they did not.
In their verdict, which came down March 5, the judges determined that Blythe was morally responsible for Nosek’s death, but he was not criminally liable. The bulk of the blame, claimed the judges, was due to the inadequate security measures provided by promoters and security. Blythe was allowed to return to the U.S., but the case was subject to appeal to the Prague High Court.
The State Attorney did indeed appeal the lower court’s decision and three judges in Prague’s High Court heard the case. Blythe was not present and in the end, his acquittal was upheld fully exonerating the singer from any wrongdoing.
In his book Dark Days: A Memoir, Blythe wrote in detail about being arrested, spending five weeks in a Czech Prison and his bizarre journey through the country’s legal system.
Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, as well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax, Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Front book My Riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.