By The Vanguard Staff
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – It only took a San Francisco County Superior Court jury five hours to determine a man – awaiting a trial nearly a year and a half – was not guilty of all charged burglary counts that the Public Defender’s Office said were simply a bad “coincidence.”
Eric Forks Wednesday was found not guilty, according to Deputy Public Defender Yali Corea-Levy, even though he had solid proof – his court-mandated probation ankle monitor had him no where near the scene of the burglaries in April 2020.
The PD’s office blamed the SF court’s refusal to open up trial courtrooms to full capacity.
San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju said, “Mr. Forks has had these serious charges hanging over his head for nearly a year and a half, and the jury took less than a day to review all the evidence and acquit him.
“San Francisco Superior Court needs to open up more courtrooms for jury trials because there are hundreds of people, both in and out of custody, whose rights to a speedy trial are being violated and who are suffering under the stress of waiting for their trial.”
Raju filed a lawsuit on September 14, against the SF Superior Court, and demanded it open more trial courtrooms for juries to hear criminal cases.
In April 2020, according to a PD’s statement, “three burglaries happened over the course of two days. Two hours after the third burglary, Forks – who regularly looks for discarded items on the street – was driving by and saw someone he knew standing with a TV that Mr. Forks ended up taking home.”
But, because the car was seen on surveillance picking up the TV, the PD said, he not only was arrested for receiving stolen property – unbeknownst to him the TV was stolen – but also charged with five felonies related to burglaries.
“The problem with the police’s theory of the case was Forks, who was on probation at the time, was wearing a GPS ankle monitor – a 24-hour surveillance device attached to his body – and none of the data placed him at the scene of the crimes at the time of the burglaries. No one else has been charged for these crimes,” explained the PD.
“It was terrifying to see how bad coincidences can make a completely innocent person look guilty and how much power the criminal legal system can wield over someone who is already in a vulnerable position,” said Corea-Levy.