SAN FRANCISCO -- Prosecutors announced Friday they would close their investigation into the fatal stabbing of a Southern California man last year after a Giants-Dodgers game, saying they could not prove the man who stabbed the victim just blocks away from AT&T Park was not acting in self-defense.
District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement his office was "ethically obligated" not to prosecute the case against 21-year-old Lodi resident Michael Montgomery, who police said stabbed Los Angeles Dodgers fan Jonathan Denver, 24, on Sept. 25. The slaying took place in an alley only a few blocks from AT&T Park, shortly after the final regular-season game between the Dodgers and the Giants.
"With multiple sources indicating how the event transpired, it makes it impossible for us to meet our burden and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Montgomery was not acting in self-defense," Gascon said in a news release. "Our hearts go out to the victim's family. The loss of a loved one in this manner is indeed tragic."
Police said two groups of people got into an argument at the intersection of Third and Stillman streets shortly before 10:30 p.m. that night. A few minutes later, the argument resumed and became physical, investigatorsconcluded.
During the fight, Denver punched Montgomery and Denver's brother swung a collapsible aluminum chair at Montgomery, striking him in the head, Gascon said. Denver and his brother outweighed Montgomery by more than 150 pounds between them, he added.
Montgomery stabbed Denver once, killing him. Montgomery was arrested, but prosecutors announced that without further witnesses, they could not formally charge him and he was released a few days later.
Investigators from the District Attorney's office re-interviewed all witnesses after the police finished their investigation and reviewed video and forensic evidence before coming to their decision.
"It just brings everything right back up to the surface," Denver's aunt, Jill Haro, said Friday night as she fought back tears. "For it to end this way is disappointing. For me it's maddening. I just really want to understand."
His grandfather, Robert Preece, of Covina, said family members felt prosecutors, at the least, had a good manslaughter case against Montgomery.
"We were hoping the DA would come up with more witnesses," Preece said. "We'll put it in God's hands. He's the one who knows why it happened this way and the only one with an answer.
"I know Michael Montgomery has to know in his heart that what he did was wrong. Every morning he's got to wake up and think about the fact he stabbed someone and he died. I know it's a heavy burden on his heart and even though he's not going to be convicted by our courts he's convicted in his own heart."
Reached Friday evening, Michael Montgomery's father, Marty, said he didn't even know the investigation involving his son had concluded.
"We weren't worried about it," he said.
Regarding his son, he said,"He's doing really well."
Staff writer Natalie Neysa Alund contributed to this report.