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Man pleads guilty in fatal dog walker confrontation

A South Philadelphia man has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter for his role in a confrontation that ended in the death of a 38-year-old man who was walking his dog at Gold Star Park last year.

Matthew Oropeza, 25, of South 6th Street, faces sentencing by Judge Glenn Bronson on May 28 for the incident that occurred on January 5, 2019 at the park located at 6th and Wharton Streets, the District Attorney’s Office announced on Monday.

According to the DA’s office, the victim, Drew Justice, was walking his dog with his fiancee at the park and asked Oropeza to leash his two dogs. Oropeza took offense and punched Justice, causing him to fall and hit his head and die from his injuries shortly after.

The Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office had ruled that Justice died from a blunt impact trauma injury to the head.

“I want to thank Assistant District Attorney Danielle Burkavage for securing justice in this matter today. It is never acceptable to inflict violence, much less violence against a neighbor in a neighborly setting,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said. “May the loved ones of the deceased continue to find healing and support from loving neighbors, and may this defendant find rehabilitation and repair while serving his sentence.”

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