- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Criminal charges will not be filed against a homeless man who was arrested in the stabbing death of a San Francisco Bay Area teenager, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The Santa Clara District Attorney’s office said that they dismissed the case against Todd Tharp because the evidence suggests he stabbed 16-year-old Ivan Diaz Amezcua in self-defense at a park in Campbell earlier this week.

“At this point, we’ve declined to file charges against him. The evidence that we have reviewed so far looks like self-defense,” Sean Webby, a district attorney’s office spokesman said Wednesday.

Campbell Police Sgt. Gary Berg said Wednesday the evidence from its investigation has been pretty consistent with Tharp’s account, which led to his release from jail on Tuesday.

Tharp, 24, was arrested on suspicion of murder after a fight broke out between him and the teenager and the teen’s friends near a baseball field Sunday night. Tharp said in jailhouse interviews the next day that the teen and at least two others jumped him for no reason and was repeatedly kicked in the head and struck with a bottle.

“He turns and he hits me; he hits me, right?,” Tharp told KNTV-TV. “I hit him and hit him twice and he hits me, hit me once, and then one of the friends caught me from the side. He started kicking me and that’s it. Only in my head, nowhere else, just my head.”

Tharp said he pulled out his six-inch hunting knife to defend himself against the group he thought was drunk and on drugs.

“It was strictly self-defense,” Tharp told KTVU-TV. “I carry that knife as a tool and absolute last resort and never had to use it to protect my life before that.”

Diaz Amezcua was stabbed and later died at a San Jose hospital from his injuries after undergoing surgery. The teen’s family said he was a junior at Boynton High School in San Jose and wished they knew his version of what happened.

“I would like to know how everything got started, why, what reasons did the guy have to stab my brother,” his sister Myra Diaz told KTVU.

Berg said the incident, which was Campbell’s first homicide of the year, remains under investigation as police are looking into whether or not it was gang-related.

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