By Ryan Oh
Niemaha Eli, a San Francisco resident, found herself facing a potential charge of attempted murder. Ms. Eli was allegedly swinging hard objects like an audio speaker, guitar, and a metal rod against the victim.
At the preliminary hearing on October 31, 2019, presided over by Judge Rita F. Lin, the prosecutor sought to charge Eli with an attempted murder charge toward a male victim. The People called their first and the only witness, Officer Ronald Auchujak from the San Francisco Police Department, for further elaboration of the case. According to his report, the officer testified that Ms. Eli swung an audio speaker toward the victim at first, which missed his head. Then, from the intersection between 14th and Dolores Streets of San Francisco, Ms. Eli started chasing him for approximately an hour to the intersection of Church and Market Streets. While chasing, Ms. Eli allegedly threw a guitar and swung a metal rod toward the victim’s head, which ultimately missed and thus did not hurt him. The police soon responded and arrested Ms. Eli and detained her in custody for further investigation.
In a subsequent cross-examination by the defense counsel, the officer stated that there was no evidence that the speaker used for Ms. Eli’s alleged attack against the victim was a small Bluetooth device or a large counterpart capable of inflicting lethal injury upon an individual when used as an attacking tool. Yet, the officer mentioned that the victim was “in fear” during the investigation and testified that he was afraid of the defendant’s presence. The officer further indicated that, although a metal pipe was found and collected as the evidence, the police were not able to locate a guitar and a speaker used for Ms. Eli’s alleged murder attempt. After this statement, the judge excused the officer from testimony.
In his closing statement, the defense counsel argued there does not exist sufficient evidence supporting Eli’s charge of attempted murder. Specifically, counsel mentioned that there has been no evidence on the surface to support deadly weapon charges, considering the “composition, sharpness, and heft” of the objects discovered during the police investigation do not qualify as deadly weapons. The prosecutor, in response, rebutted by stating that a metal rod is an object that is hard enough to potentially murder an individual, while there is a clear sign of attempted murder as the defendant tried to swing the objects toward the victim’s head.
It seemed that there was an insufficiency of evidence of a guitar pr a speaker, or of the composition and size of the two objects that support alleged deadly weapon charges of the defendant. Nevertheless, Judge Lin stated that there was still critical evidence of the defendant swinging a pipe against the victim’s head. Concluding the matter, the judge ordered the defendant held to answer for her charges.