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Lodi stabbing suspect released from custody in San Francisco

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Posted: Friday, September 27, 2013 12:12 pm | Updated: 5:25 am, Sat Sep 28, 2013.

A 21-year-old Lodi man arrested on suspicion of stabbing to death a Dodgers fan in San Francisco was released from jail Friday night, according to the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office.

Michael Montgomery, whose father said in an interview with the Lodi News-Sentinel that his son was defending himself when he stabbed 24-year-old Jonathan Denver, was freed from San Francisco County Jail.

The release came hours after San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement that his office is waiting for more evidence before deciding whether or not to press charges.

“The San Francisco Police Department has provided us an initial investigation,” Gascon said. “However, not all witnesses have been interviewed, nor have any independent witnesses of the incident been interviewed. We have requested this and other evidence be collected before we can make an assessment on whether charges should be filed.”

Gascon added that it is the job of the district attorney’s office to compile enough evidence to prove Montgomery did not act in self-defense, as Michael Montgomery told his father via telephone Thursday afternoon, according to Marty Montgomery.

“In order to meet our ethical obligation in charging this case, we must have a good faith basis to believe we can prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Gascon said. “Additionally, in California, it is the People’s burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in lawful self-defense.”

On Friday, authorities released a second man, age 18, after he was questioned for several hours in connection with the fatal stabbing near AT&T Park on Wednesday night, according to the San Francisco Police Department.

Montgomery and the other man were detained following the fight and held for several hours.

On Thursday afternoon, the San Francisco Police Department formally arrested Montgomery on suspicion of murder after he made incriminating statements, police said.

During an interview with the Lodi News-Sentinel, Marty Montgomery said he spoke to his son via telephone while he was in custody. During that conversation, Michael Montgomery told his father that Denver made disparaging remarks about a Giants hat a friend of Montgomery’s was wearing, Marty Montgomery said. Michael Montgomery’s friend said something to Denver and his friends, he said.

A fight ensued and Michael Montgomery told his father that Denver hit him over the head with a chair. Marty Montgomery added his son told him that he stabbed Denver in self-defense.

“It was a self-defense deal,” Marty Montgomery said. “(Michael) got jumped. (Denver and friends) started swinging chairs and he stabbed (Denver). (Denver) mouthed off about the San Francisco hat. It wasn’t even (Michael’s) hat.”

Late Friday night, Marty Montgomery told the Lodi News-Sentinel he was going to San Francisco to pick up his son after his release.

Police are continuing to search for two men who fled the scene on foot. Police said that at this point, they’re only wanted for questioning, but additional arrests may be made.

The Oakland Tribune reported that Denver attended the Giants game Wednesday night with his father, brother and two others. Wearing Dodgers apparel, Denver left the ballpark with the group around 10 p.m. — the eighth inning — and was headed to a bar.

About 11:30 p.m., near Third and Stillman streets, they encountered another group of people — one of whom was wearing a Giants cap — that had been at a bar and not the game. There was “some back and forth about the Giants-Dodgers rivalry,” police said, starting a fight.

That melee broke up, but when they crossed paths again minutes later at Third and Perry streets, a second altercation ensued, and Denver was stabbed. He was rushed to San Francisco General Hospital, where he died.

Kristin J. Bender and Joshua Melvin of The Oakland Tribune and Justin Pritchard of the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Kristopher Anderson at krisa@lodinews.com.

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