SAN FRANCISCO – Two weeks ago, Eduardo Navarro faced charges of indecent exposure stemming from an incident in his own home, first at 2 am and then at 8:20 pm the next evening.
“It was dark and suddenly there was a light at 2 am,” said the 32-year-old witness, who had been living in her apartment for three years with her husband. “He was naked.”
But the jury didn’t buy it and they hung, 10-2 for not guilty on the first incident and 8-4 for not guilty on the second.
Deputy Public Defender Diamond Ward told the Vanguard “they didn’t find the complaining witness to be all that credible.”
The neighbor testified that she was looking into his window through the gaps and through broken parts of the blinds. She described it as a ten foot long window, but the jury, looking at it through the officer’s body worn camera, concluded it was more like five feet.
“(The jury) looked at it objectively,” Ms. Ward said. “If he really truly had the intent to direct public attention to his genitals, for the purpose of sexual gratification, or to sexually annoy her, a person (would) just open the window or open the blinds.”
Instead, she pointed out, “his blinds were down or closed. His lights were off.” She said, “You just would have to try really really hard to be able to move your body in such a way so that somebody can see you through the gaps in the blinds.”
She said that “they just didn’t think anyone would go through all of that trouble when he just could have opened the blinds to let her see him.”
Ms. Ward pointed out that the defendant had lived in this place for 12 years, while the complaining witness had lived there for three years and nothing of this sort had happened before. She was the only witness for the prosecution.
The prosecution not only pressed this case, but wanted him to have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. At the time, they indicated that they would not dismiss the case.
In her opening arguments, Ms. Ward argued that this case was about “mistakes.” She said, “We all make mistakes.” And she argued that “the complaining witness is mistaken about what she saw happening.”
She argued that there was no evidence to show that Mr. Navarro was inappropriate with the complaining witnesses. She argued that the prosecution can’t prove that Mr. Navarro intended to draw public attention to his penis.
Instead, she argued that Mr. Navarro was living his everyday life in the comfort of his own home and was completely unaware of the problem until police arrived at his door.
“It’s not a crime to be naked at home with the blinds closed and the lights off,” Ms. Ward said. “Mr. Navarro is truly an innocent man.”
Diamond Ward told the Vanguard, “It was a really difficult case.” She also said it was “scary.
“If you walk into your kitchen naked, someone can misinterpret what you’re doing in your kitchen. You could be labeled as a sex offender for the rest of your life,” she said. “That’s so scary to think that this could happen to any one of us.”
She added, “I think it’s outrageous that they’re trying to police us in our own home.” She added, “It’s scary the consequences of a case like this.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting