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No charges in fatal fistfight outside Sonoma Valley teen center

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A Sonoma Valley man will not face criminal charges for his role in a fistfight in which another man died, his lawyer said Friday.

Joshua Javier Gonzalez, 19, was suspected in the August scuffle outside the Valley of the Moon Teen Center that led to the death of Mario Zamudio Perez, 25, also of Sonoma Valley.

Police believed Gonzalez punched Perez, knocking him down and causing fatal head injuries.

But the teenager insisted he acted in self-defense when Perez started a fight with him over a Facebook posting. A videotape made by a witness confirmed his story, said his lawyer, Walter Rubenstein.

Gonzalez sighed deeply and had tears in his eyes as prosecutor Barbara Nanney announced the decision in a Santa Rosa courtroom, his lawyer said.

“This is the right thing to do,” Rubenstein said outside court. “My client feels really bad about what happened. There are no winners.”

Perez’s family attended the hearing. They could not immediately be reached for comment.

Gonzalez, a former teen center volunteer, was using the center’s computers to shop for a new car just before the fight broke out. Perez apparently confronted him about the posting and called him outside, Rubenstein said.

The older man swung first and a reluctant Gonzalez punched back, hitting Perez and making him fall.

Not knowing Perez was fatally injured, he left the center, but turned himself in to police after being informed of the death.

He was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter but released on bail. He faced possible prison if convicted.

With the announcement, the criminal case will be dropped.

“It was an unbelievable relief to him,” Rubenstein said.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ppayne.

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