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March 21, 2019

Man charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly throwing punch that led to fellow dog-walker’s death

January 11, 2019
Matthew Thomas Oropeza was charged with involuntary manslaughter. (istockphoto)

Police charged a 24-year-old man with involuntary manslaughter in the death of a man he punched while both were walking their dogs. He was also charged with simple assault, reckless endangerment and terroristic threats.

Drew Justice, 38, died on Saturday after being punched, falling to the ground and hitting his head on the sidewalk while he and his fiancée were out walking their dog in a Philadelphia park.

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Police had ruled his death a homicide on Tuesday and had been seeking the puncher, who’d fled on foot after the incident. Oropeza turned himself in on Thursday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Justice lived across the street from Gold Star Park and was with his fiancée, Kristi Buchholz, walking their Shih Tzu when he got into an argument with Oropeza, witnesses told NBC affiliate KYW at the time. Justice asked Oropeza to leash his dog, and Oropeza refused. After things escalated, Oropeza punched Justice in the face. He went down, hit his head on the sidewalk and died about half an hour later from a “blunt impact trauma injury to the head,” police told the Inquirer.

This was not Oropeza’s first brush with violence. The Inquirer unearthed court records of two previous fights. His current charges constitute a first-degree misdemeanor and could land Oropeza in prison for up to five years.

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