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Suspect in fatal Fourth Street punch to plead guilty
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Suspect in fatal Fourth Street punch to plead guilty


SIOUX CITY -- A Sioux City man charged with fatally punching another man on Fourth Street is scheduled to plead guilty Monday.

A plea-taking and sentencing hearing for Ray Avila has been scheduled for 1 p.m. in Woodbury County District Court.

Avila, 25, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter, assault causing serious injury and flight to avoid prosecution for the July 29, 2018, assault and subsequent death of Peter Johnson. Avila had been scheduled to stand trial on Aug. 20. He remains in custody in the Woodbury County Jail on a $50,000 bond.

A plea agreement has not yet been filed or posted to online court records. Each of the charges Avila currently faces is a Class D felony, each punishable by five years in prison.

Avila is accused of punching Johnson after a misunderstanding over a car break-in. According to court documents, the car's owner, Juan Espinoza, was trying to break the window of his locked car parked in the 1100 block of Fourth Street when Johnson kicked him, thinking he was trying to rob the car. 

After a scuffle between Johnson and Espinoza, Avila punched Johnson, knocking him to the pavement, court documents said. Johnson died three days later.

An autopsy showed Johnson had suffered a ring fracture in the base of his skull from the impact with the sidewalk.

Avila, who is a U.S. citizen, fled Sioux City sometime after the incident and was arrested in May in Mexico, where he had family connections. He was returned to Woodbury County in June to face charges.

Assistant public defender Laury Lau had filed notice that Avila would claim self-defense and defense of others at trial.


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