Sonoma County man sentenced to probation for punching cyclist along Joe Rodota Trail

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A man who this spring assaulted a cyclist riding past a homeless encampment was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to complete a substance abuse treatment program.

Michael Anthony Howard-Lafond, 20, of Sonoma County, in September pleaded no contest to felony assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury. He was ordered to stay away from the Joe Rodota Trail and the cyclist, Bill Petty of Roseland.

Petty was riding home from work May 15 when his path was blocked at the homeless camp by eight to 10 people standing in the middle of the trail. When Petty tried to walk his bike through the group, someone grabbed his shirt, an argument broke out and Howard-Lafond struck him in his left eye.

Petty “suffered orbital and nasal fractures and his eye was swollen shut for days after the assault,” according to a press release from the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office.

Police last spring said it was unclear whether Howard-Lafond was living at the encampment or visiting friends there.

In a statement, District Attorney Jill Ravitch called the assault “an unprovoked act of violence directed at someone who was simply trying to bicycle home from work on a public trail.”

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 707-521-5285 or robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @rdigit.

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