Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that his Office will not be filing criminal charges arising out of an argument and fight which occurred in an Eagan apartment on January 1, 2013. Jonathan Thomas Lahr, age 36, a resident of the apartment, died following a fight which occurred with his roommate, Samuel Walter Petersen, age 28.
The following is a brief summary of the facts associated with this incident:
Jonathan Lahr and Samuel Petersen, along with Petersen’s father and a woman friend, went to four bars on the afternoon and evening of January 1, 2013. All of these individuals consumed a significant amount of alcohol during this time. Shortly before 11:00 p.m., these individuals were asked to leave a Bloomington bar because the female in the group had become disruptive. Prior to leaving, a verbal argument occurred between Petersen and Lahr during which Petersen apparently pushed Lahr to the ground. The four took a cab to the Eagan apartment complex where Petersen and Lahr resided. Upon arrival, Lahr paid for the cab and they entered the apartment.
Petersen later told police that the argument between he and Lahr continued once they were inside the apartment and said that Lahr hit him. Petersen said he struck back, hitting Lahr in the head with his fist and knocking him to the ground. He told police that he thought Lahr had passed out and he left the room to cool off. When he checked on Lahr about 15 minutes later, he realized that Lahr was not breathing and called 911. The other two persons who were present in the apartment apparently they did not actually witness this altercation. Also, no physical evidence exists to counter the information Petersen gave to police.
The medical examiner who conducted an autopsy on Jonathan Lahr 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 classified the death as a homicide. Lahr had minimal external injuries, however, as a result of being struck by Petersen.
Backstrom indicated that he has concluded that under the facts and evidence gathered by the Eagan Police Department in this case no criminal charges are possible at this time due to the inability to disprove a claim of self-defense which would be available to Petersen under Minnesota law.
Backstrom stated: “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.”
Backstrom thanked the Eagan Police Department for their thorough investigation into this matter and expressed his deep sympathy to the family and friends of Jonathan Lahr for their great loss.
If you have questions, contact James Backstrom at 651-438-4440.