By Greg Ritzinger
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – A defense witness called to testify here in San Francisco County Superior Court Friday in a trial about a stabbing May 7, 2019, outside the Harcourt Hotel on Larkin Street proved to be a little difficult.
San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Aleem Raja called to the stand the witness, an employee of the hotel, to ask the employee what they observed early that May morning.
Assistant District Attorney Julia Gonzalez cross-examined the witness as to what they testified to that day in court and what they had previously reported in a number of interviews conducted by the Public Defender’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, and San Francisco Police Sergeant Marino.
He had prepared a poster board with names of the defendant Jeffrey Eble, the witness, and the victim’s father so the jury may observe a timeline of events to be confirmed by the surveillance footage.
In the footage, the witness was able to identify themself, the defendant, the victim’s father, and another witness to the event. The witness identified the hotel lobby and the scene of the altercation. They also testified to their interactions with the defendant and the victim’s father. They were both residents of the hotel and frequently interacted with the witness.
At one point in the surveillance footage, the defendant is seen bringing his bicycle into the lobby, dropping his backpack on the ground, and urgently walking outside the hotel. The victim’s father and the employee witness followed after. It is allegedly at this point that the stabbing occurred. There was no surveillance footage of what the witness testified to as it was outside the hotel down the street.
The witness testified that they saw the defendant and victim grappling with one another approximately five car lengths away. They testified that their view was obstructed by the cars, the distance, and since it was nighttime. The employee testified that they did not see any blood on Eble, that they had not seen any weapon, and that at no point did they then or ever feel threatened by Eble.
On cross-examination, prosecutor Gonzalez asked about discrepancies between testimony given that day and reports given. The witness had been interviewed earlier in July by the DA’s office and in the few days following the incident by the police sergeant.
The witness appeared agitated at the number of questions on details like how often the defendant brought them food. At one point, the witness refused to look at the transcript of a previous interview to refresh their recollection. The witness explained numerous times that the event happened two years ago and that it was hard to remember. They also stated that they work nights, seven nights a week.
Cross-examination was unable to be completed as the witness had already been testifying for hours and the court day had come to an end. The witness was ordered back to court and the trial will reconvene in Dept. 16 on Monday, Aug. 2 at 2 p.m.