Although Injury Moderate, Judge Refuses to Reduce Charges against Homeless Man, Who Claimed He Was Protecting Unhoused Friend  

San Francisco Hall of Justice – Photo by David M. Greenwald

By Zainab Antepli 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – San Francisco Superior Court Judge A. Marisa Chun this week denied a defense motion to reduce charges from a felony to a misdemeanor in a preliminary hearing here for an accused who allegedly hit someone in the back of the head with a metal pipe before attempting to flee in a van.

According to the court, a nearby witness saw the altercation and called the police, leading to the accused’s arrest. The accused said he did hit the victim, but did so because the victim allegedly stole clothes from the accused’s friend, given to the friend by the accused. Both are homeless.

The preliminary hearing included the testimony of three witnesses, the reporting civilian and two police officers, as well as the inclusion of several pieces of evidence.

The prosecution submitted a medical report which contained the observations of a nurse who allegedly examined the victim. The prosecutor argued the document could be submitted into evidence as a business record.

The defense objected because it would not have an opportunity to cross-examine the medical professional who allegedly made those observations to either ensure its validity or clarify the medical terminology.

Judge A. Marisa Chun tentatively agreed with the defense, but encouraged the prosecution to take as much time as they needed to collect their arguments, even granting the afternoon break early to ensure they had ample time. Judge Chun also suggested the prosecution could submit the medical report into evidence, in spite of the defense’s strong objection, but would not put much weight on it.

In the end, though, the medical report was rejected from evidence.

One of the testifying officers was then shown a photo of the victim—a picture of his head to show the wound the accused allegedly inflicted.

But the defense objected, arguing the officer’s recognition of the victim in the picture could not be relied upon because the officer received it via a body camera recording he was shown by one of the officers at the scene.

Judge Chun admitted the exhibit into evidence anyway.

At the end of the hearing, the defense asked the court to reduce the charges against the accused, who, although having confessed to the crime, was acting in the service of his friend. Plus, the defense said the accused had no criminal record. The defense also noted the ruling Judge Chun made that the harm inflicted on the victim was moderate and not severe.

Judge Chun ruled in favor of the prosecution, proceeding with the felony assault with a deadly weapon, not a firearm, charge and set a future court date for the accused’s arraignment.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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