Lake County man pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Graton Casino fight death
A Lake County man pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter of a Santa Rosa man who died last year of injuries dealt during a fight at the Graton Resort and Casino parking lot.
James Morgan Lewis Jr., 45, entered the plea during a hearing at the Sonoma County Superior Courthouse Tuesday, said Steve Gallenson, his lawyer.
As part of the plea deal, Lewis agreed to a four-year prison term for the involuntary manslaughter charge, Gallenson said. Lewis additionally admitted to an enhancement of inflicting great bodily injury to 55-year-old Hermilo “Milo” Andrade, who died in the hospital three days after the fight.
The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office in return dropped two other charges against Lewis - battery causing serious bodily injury and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, Gallenson said. The agreement came a week before the case was scheduled to go to trial, he said.
“Mr. Lewis feels very badly for what happened and wants to take responsibility for what occurred,” Gallenson said.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office arrested Lewis nearly 10 months ago, following a violent altercation involving several men at the casino parking lot on Sept. 15.
The fight broke out when the door of an SUV struck Lewis’ truck, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Lewis was punched in the head, and his wife was pushed to the ground in the fight, Gallenson said.
Deputies arrived around 11:30 p.m. but the fight had already ended. They were called back about 40 minutes later after another fight. In that altercation, Lewis shoved Andrade with his forearm, causing the Santa Rosa man to fall and hit his head on a concrete sidewalk, authorities said.
Andrade, a father of three daughters and longtime Santa Rosa Junior College custodian, was unconscious when he was taken in critical condition to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. He died Sept. 18.
Lewis, who was arrested the night of the fight but released after posting bail, will return to court Aug. 28 for sentencing.
You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @nashellytweets.