Jury finds Zachariah Knokle guilty of volunteer manslaughter

BROWNSTOWN – A Jackson Circuit Court jury on Friday, found Zachariah Knokle guilty of volunteer manslaughter. Judge Richard Poynter presided over the trial.

Knokle waived his Jury verdict and admits to being a habitual offender status enhancements.

He will be sentenced on March 8th at 10 a.m.

Zachariah Knokle

Knokle murdered Michael Steele during a fight at the Jackson County Fair. Both men worked with Poor Jack Amusement.

On July 28, 2021, at 1:13 a.m. Jackson County Sheriff’s Department deputies responded to the fairgrounds after a report of a battery and an unresponsive man found laying on the ground.

A deputy, working security for the fairgrounds, reported Zachariah Konkle, who was 27, was in an altercation with Michael Steele. This took place a few hours after a visitor at the fair claimed a carnival employee had made fun of their special needs child.

The family approached Konkle and asked where they could find someone in charge so they could report the incident. Konkle told the police he informed the family he would take care of the problem. When police asked him if he ever contacted anyone in charge of the fair, he said he did not.

Around 12:30 a.m. Konkle said he was speaking with a co-worker about the incident and that’s when Steele allegedly approached him and hit him in the side of the head which started the fight.

A witness to the fight told police Konkle approached Steete first, but Steele did throw the first punch.

Konkle then got Steele on the ground and put him in a headlock and punched Steele five to six times in the back of the head. He then switched and punched Steele in the side of the head and told him to go to sleep. Konkle said he stopped when he heard Steele gasp for air.

The witness told police Steele then went limp and Konkle got off Steele and the witness called 911.

A woman, who told police she did not witness the fight, attempted CPR on Steele but was pushed off by Konkle, who told her she was not doing CPR right.

Steele was taken to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour and then to IU Health Methodist Hospital where he died at 10:46 p.m. Saturday, July 31, 2021.

Knokle was arrested on July 28, 2021. on a charge of strangulation but then after Steele’s death, he was charged with murder.

Konkle told police he has anger issues and things escalated “way too far” between him and Steele, according to court documents. He claimed he never said he was going to kill Steele but took things into his own hands when he should not have.