Man dies after fight in Oceano on Friday; police question person of interest

clambert@thetribunenews.comJune 22, 2013 

Joseph Munoz

COURTESY PHOTO

UPDATE: After a car-chase that reached speeds of 70 mph through Santa Maria, police detained and spent much of Sunday questioning a suspect in the killing of Nipomo resident Joseph Luis Padilla.

Twenty-five-year-old Padilla received life-threatening injuries during a fight that occurred at approximately 10:45 p.m. Friday on the 1300 block of 19th Street in Oceano, and died later at Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.

Police were quick to rule the death a homicide, but they have not released information about the nature of Padilla’s wounds or any suspected weapons.

By Saturday afternoon, investigators announced they were looking for 35-year-old Oceano resident Joseph Munoz, identified as a person of interest who was present during the altercation that killed Padilla.

Munoz was also wanted for violating the terms of his parole for narcotics involvement, Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla said.

Detectives found Munoz in Santa Maria on Sunday morning, traveling in a car with a female driver identified as 24-year-old Cassandra De Leon of Santa Maria and a female passenger identified as 41-year-old Stacy Araujo of Santa Maria.

When investigators tried to stop the car, De Leon led detectives on a chase through Santa Maria, reaching speeds of 70 mph.

Santa Maria Police officers joined the pursuit, and Munoz was apprehended at approximately 9:30 a.m. in Guadalupe, when the vehicle eventually pulled over.

Munoz was arrested for his parole violation and was questioned about the Oceano homicide. De Leon was arrested for a probation violation and a warrant out of Santa Barbara County. Araujo was detained and released.

The investigation is ongoing.

ORIGINAL STORY: Sheriff’s Office detectives spent Saturday investigating a late-night fight in Oceano that led to one man’s death.

Officials are calling the death a homicide and are looking for an Oceano man they believe might have some information about the incident, which happened Friday night in the 1300 block of 19th Street.

The Sheriff’s Office received a report of a fight in that area about 10:45 p.m. When deputies arrived, they found a man with life-threatening injuries, according to a news release.

The man was transported to Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, where he later died. His name has not been released pending notification of family members.

Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla said the agency isn’t releasing any information at this time on any weapon used or the location or nature of the victim’s wounds.

He said investigators believe two people, including the victim, were involved in the fight, but they are still trying to determine whether there are multiple suspects.

“The investigation is very fluid right now,” Cipolla said. “We’re still trying to determine what led to the fight in the first place.”

Investigators said Saturday they are searching for 35-year-old Joseph Munoz, who they said was present during the altercation. Detectives want to interview him to determine the exact circumstances surrounding the victim’s death, according to a news release.

Munoz, who is wanted for violating the terms of his parole, is described as 5 feet tall, 130 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He has the word “Southside” tattooed across his throat.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 781-4550 or San Luis Obispo County Crime Stoppers at 549-7867.

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