A Lake County man suspected of causing the death of another man following a fight outside the Graton Casino now faces an involuntary manslaughter charge, a Sonoma County sheriff’s official said Monday, as Santa Rosa Junior College staff members remembered the victim as a longtime employee with a warm smile and positive attitude.
Deputies arrested James Morgan Lewis Jr., 44, of Hidden Valley Lake, after the late‑night fight Sept. 15, suspecting him of felony assault causing great bodily injury. According to the Sheriff’s Office, Lewis shoved Hermilo Andrade to the ground, causing the man to hit his head on a concrete sidewalk.
Unconscious, Andrade was taken in critical condition to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.
After three days in intensive care, the 55‑year‑old Santa Rosa man died. Investigators notified Lewis, who initially was released from Sonoma County Jail after posting $35,000 bail. He turned himself in to the Sonoma County Jail last week, suspected of the more serious charge, sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Crum said.
Andrade, known as “Milo,” leaves a wife, Maria, and three daughters, Rose, Teresa and Gloria, as well as an extended family, SRJC President Frank Chong said Monday in a letter informing college employees about the man’s death. He said Andrade worked as a custodian for the junior college since 1983 and was well respected among his co-workers.
“He was always kind and happy as he went about his work,” Chong said in the letter. “I was lucky enough to get to know Milo and saw his commitment to his family, friends and to SRJC. He always greeted me with a warm smile that I’ll never forget.”
Colleagues in the college’s facilities and operations department described Andrade as a leader.
“Milo’s positivity had the unique ability to comfort us in times of stress, move us forward in times of challenge and bring us together in unity always,” the letter said.
Andrade and Lewis first crossed paths in the Rohnert Park casino parking lot around 11:30 p.m. Sept. 15.
Lewis had gotten into an argument with several men when the door of their SUV struck his truck, the Sheriff’s Office said.
During the argument, someone pushed Lewis’s girlfriend to the ground and Lewis was punched in the face, deputies said. The couple wasn’t sure who had assaulted them and didn’t press charges.
Deputies left without arresting anyone but were quickly called back to the casino parking lot for a subsequent fight. This time they found Andrade unconscious on the ground.
Sheriff’s officials said Lewis pushed the man, who he thought was involved in the earlier altercation. Surveillance video of the initial fight wasn’t clear on who punched Lewis and knocked down his girlfriend, but tape of the second incident showed Lewis using his forearm to shove Andrade, Crum said.
Andrade died Sept. 18. Detectives were notified Wednesday and contacted Lewis, who agreed to return to jail Thursday, Crum said.
Lewis, who since has been released after posting $50,000 bail, is due in court Monday. He’s expected to be arraigned on the involuntary manslaughter charge, as well as assault likely to cause great bodily injury and causing a traumatic brain injury while committing a felony.
You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or email@example.com. On Twitter @rossmannreport.