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No Charges Filed In Fatal Roommate Fight In Eagan

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(credit: ThinkStock)

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — No charges will be filed in a fatal fight between roommates in Eagan on Jan. 1, 2013, the Dakota County Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

According to authorities, on the day of the incident, police were called to an apartment on the 4500 block of Slater Road. The caller said he had been in a fight with another man, and that the man was unresponsive and not breathing.

When paramedics arrived, they attempted to revive the man, but were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at the scene. He’s been identified as 36-year-old Jonathan Thomas Lahr.

Police say the caller who said he was involved in the fight with Lahr was 28-year-old Samuel Walter Peterson. He and Lahr had been roommates since June of last year. Police say they had been called to the residence that month for a noise complaint.

Peterson told police he was in an argument with Lahr after an afternoon and night of drinking. When they got to the apartment, Peterson said that Lahr hit him. Peterson then struck back, hitting Lahr in the head with his fist and knocking him to the ground. After that, Peterson told police he thought Lahr had passed out, so he left the room to cool off. When he checked back 15 minutes later, he realized Lahr was not breathing and called 911.

A medical examiner who conducted Lahr’s autopsy concluded 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. The medical examiner deemed the death a homicide. Lahr had minimal external injuries, however, as a result of being struck by Peterson.

The Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said no physical evidence exists to counter the information Peterson gave police. So, no criminal charges are possible at this time because of the inability to disprove a claim of self-defense.

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

Backstrom thanked Eagan Police for the thorough investigation and expressed his deep sympathy to the family and friends of Lahr for their great loss.

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