By Vanguard Staff
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A Fresno man accused of murder—and, because of backlog caused by Covid-19, waited in jail for nearly five months after he should have had his day in court—was found not guilty by a jury in San Francisco County Superior Court Tuesday.
The jury said Robert Brewer shot and killed a man in an act of self-defense, although Brewer did plead to a single felony count of possession of a firearm.
Deputy Public Defender Kathleen Natividad and her team said they focused on the physical evidence—the victim had a weapon—and character witnesses for Brewer to show that her client had acted in self-defense.
According to the facts of the case, on August 2020, Robert Brewer was visiting San Francisco in a rental car, getting his mother a birthday gift. After Brewer parked, he became lost—not all that unusual for City visitors—when he struck out on foot.
Brewer latter approached a vehicle he believed to be his rental car, but soon realized he was mistaken when he encountered Darrelle Scales, the owner of the car.
Scales, said the defense, began threatening Brewer, who walked away. Scales then followed Mr. Brewer for blocks.
And, said the defense, when Brewer saw Scales “reach for a shiny object in his waistband, which he believed to be a gun, he shot at Mr. Scales one time out of fear.”
Scales later died, but authorities found an 18” long silver metal pipe on him which suggested it wasn’t murder but self-defense.
“The jury understood that Mr. Brewer was in fear for his life and was acting in self-defense,” said Natividad. “Situations like this are so complex because you have someone like Mr. Brewer who grew up in an area where he was exposed to so much violence and was only carrying a gun for protection.”
Brewer, said the PD, has been held in San Francisco County jail since August 2020 although he had asserted his right to a speedy trial in October. Covid-19 caused backlog that limited jury trials Brewer waited nearly five months beyond the last day that his trial should have been heard.
“I am proud of our defense team who worked hard to demonstrate that this was an act of self-defense. Mr. Brewer would have never fired if he was not in fear for his own life. We are pleased that the jury understood the reality of the altercation and made the right decision,” said Public Defender Mano Raju.
He singled out PD Natividad, second chair Nikita Saini, Investigators Nigel Phillips and Carolyn Phillips, Paralegal Sercan Ersoy, and Law Clerks Elly Leggatt and Matt Bertini.
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