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Birthday party turns deadly
Victims future son-in-law charged in killing
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Dean Ponsiano, 46, died of his head injuries Monday afternoon, police said, after being assaulted outside his Dody Drive home shortly after midnight Sunday morning.  

Ponsiano was allegedly struck by soon-to-be son-in-law Jorge Momayo Fernandez, 32, near the curbing of the street in front of his home near Woodward Park.   Manteca Police said he fell after being assaulted and hit his head on the asphalt causing what was described as major brain damage.

Police investigators Detective Sergeant Tony Souza and Steve Beermann were called to the scene at about 2:30 in the morning when hospital staffers reported the seriousness of the man’s injuries.

Beermann, a longtime Manteca detective now on patrol, was called in to assist in the case due to the shortage of available detectives because of the department’s economic cutbacks.

Fernandez had fled the scene after the altercation, but later turned himself in to police mid-day Sunday, officers said.

Sgt. Souza explained there had been a birthday party for two young children in the family early Saturday night at the Ponsiano home with some 25 to 30 people in attendance.  After most of well-wishers had left for the evening, a disagreement developed between four family members – two adult daughters, Ponsiano and the father.

Souza said that Fernandez left the home prior to midnight only to return a short time later when another disagreement broke out between the two men.  The younger man who had reportedly been living with the family for two months allegedly struck Ponsiano with the man falling and hitting his head on the street.

The sergeant said Monday afternoon that he almost feels like family with the survivors having developed empathy for the close knit group after seeing the hurt they were feeling at the hospital.  Family members had held an emotion-packed vigil at the hospital all day Sunday and into Monday, he said.

Ponsiano had been reportedly kept on life support until early Monday afternoon when he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Fernandez has been originally charged with assault resulting in serious bodily injury on Sunday and taken to San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp with a $50,000 bail amount.  That was amended on Monday when he was charged with murder with no bail allowed.  The initial charge of assault resulting in serious injury remains as well.

He is due to appear in the Manteca Branch of the San Joaquin County Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. today, according to the Sheriff’s website.  Police said Fernandez lived in Tracy before moving into the Ponsiano home – prior to that in San Jose.