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Eagan man won't be charged in roommate's death after fight

  • Star Tribune
  • April 11, 2013 - 9:57 AM

An Eagan man won’t be charged in connection with the death of his roommate in a drunken fight on New Year’s Day, the Dakota County Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

Jonathan Lahr, 36, died after being struck by Samuel Petersen, 28, after a day of drinking at bars with a group, the last of which they’d been asked to leave for causing a disturbance. The roommates began arguing after leaving the bar, and Petersen apparently pushed Lahr to the ground. The argument continued when the pair got home, and according to Petersen, Lahr hit him and he punched back. Petersen told police that when Lahr lost consciousness, Petersen thought he’d passed out. He left the room, but when he checked 15 minutes later, he realized Lahr wasn’t breathing.

Prosecutors concluded that with no physical evidence to contradict Petersen’s account, they couldn’t prove that Petersen wasn’t acting in self-defense, according to a statement by Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom.

A medical examiner concluded that Lahr’s death was a homicide, but, according to Backstrom’s office, the autopsy found that he could have died “as a result of a heart attack brought on by coronary artery blockage, alcohol-arrested breathing or an injury suffered during the altercation.”

Backstrom also noted that Lahr had “minimal external injuries” from the fight with Petersen.

“This decision should not be viewed as condoning violence in any form,” Backstrom said in the statement. “Under these facts, however, we have concluded at this time that no crimes can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”

 

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