By Tamara Barak Aparton
February 22, 2013
San Francisco, CA — A man whose night of revelry in North Beach ended in an altercation and arrest was acquitted of misdemeanor domestic violence, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
Jurors deliberated approximately 90 minutes Thursday afternoon before finding Anthony Abadilla, 23, not guilty of one count of battery, said Abadilla’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Seth Meisels.
Abadilla was arrested at 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 29 after bystanders reported a man had punched a woman. Responding officers found Abadilla with multiple scratches on the right side of his face stretching from his eye to his jaw line, a scrape and bump to the head and redness on the left side of his face. His 23-year-old girlfriend’s injury was more minor — swelling and redness to one temple, according to the police report.
Abadilla, who had no criminal background, denied hitting his girlfriend. He was arrested. Police also handcuffed his girlfriend, whose demeanor was noted as angry, to calm her down, officers testified. She refused medical treatment and was released. Despite his injuries, Abadilla was not offered medical treatment.
During the three day trial, Abadilla testified that he, his girlfriend and two friends had spent their evening frequenting strip clubs. When Abadilla’s girlfriend was ejected for drunkenly dancing on tables, the foursome decided to go home.
The couple immediately began arguing in the back seat of their friend’s car. Abadilla testified that his girlfriend soon began hitting and kicking him. To escape the beating, Abadilla exited the car at Columbus Avenue and Stockton Streets. His girlfriend followed, chasing him through the heart of North Beach. She grabbed him by the hair and pulled him to the ground on top of her.
Two men who told police they witnessed Abadilla hit his girlfriend took the stand, but gave conflicting accounts of the incident, Meisels said. Under cross examination, both men testified they did not see how the altercation started. One witness admitted he was a block and a half away from the alleged attack, while the other testified that he suffered from a very poor short term memory.
“It was dark, the bars had just let out for the night and it was crowded on the street. One person mistakenly thought Mr. Abadilla had hit his girlfriend. Once that person accused Mr. Abadilla, groupthink took over,” Meisels said.
Jurors later said they acquitted Abadilla after viewing his more serious injuries compared to his girlfriend’s minor one, and due to the witness’ lack of credibility. Following the trial, one juror approached Abadilla and cautioned him to watch out for his safety if he remained in the relationship. Abadilla’s girlfriend refused to cooperate with police and prosecutors and stated she did not want Abadilla arrested or charged.
The district attorney’s office should not have taken the case to trial, Meisels said.
“All prosecutors had to do to see the incredible weakness of this case was talk to the witnesses and see the glaring contradictions in their statements,” Meisels said.
Abadilla faced a year in jail if convicted.
Adachi said Abadilla was assumed to be the suspect in the case when he was actually the victim.
“Mr. Abadilla’s injuries, statements at the scene and lack of criminal history were ignored by police and prosecutors, who instead relied on the word of two people who told very different stories,” Adachi said. “Mr. Abadilla’s trial turned out to be a tremendous waste of resources.”