San Francisco, CA — A 20-year-old man with no previous criminal record will avoid state prison after a jury acquitted him today of burglarizing a South Beach loft, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced.
Jury members deliberated for a little over a day before finding Bryan Gonzalez Guzman of Millbrae not guilty of first degree residential burglary with an enhancement of the occupants being at home. If convicted, Guzman faced six years in prison and a “strike” on his record, said his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Peter Santina.
Gonzalez Guzman was instead convicted of two lesser charges – receiving stolen property and petty theft. The jury came to the same conclusion on charges against Gonzalez Guzman’s co-defendant, 20-year-old David Morse-Acevedo of San Jose. Morse-Acevedo was represented by private attorney Murray Zisholz. A sentencing date will be set Friday.
The men were arrested April 8 after their plans to go dancing at 18+ club City Nights were thwarted. After drinking several shots of liquor at home and splitting a plastic water bottle of gin on Caltrain, the men were refused entry to the club. They counted on Morse-Acevedo’s girlfriend to give them a ride home, but she entered the club and they were unable to find her afterward. The train station closed. Stranded, intoxicated and cold, the men wandered around the city for hours. Around 4:30 a.m., they entered the Clarence Place loft residence through its roof deck.
Surveillance video from inside the loft shows the two men walking around while the residents slept. An intoxicated Gonzalez Guzman can be seen walking toward the bathroom, then playing with dimmer switch in the living room, seemingly entertained by turning it on and off repeatedly.
About an hour later, one of the loft’s residents woke up and discovered his iPad and other property missing. He called police, who tracked down the pair when the iPad’s tracking software led them to Morse-Acevedo, who had stashed the computer in his pants. The rest of the missing items were recovered from an empty building next to the residence.
Gonzalez Guzman was not found with any stolen items. Jurors convicted him of the lesser charges because his fingerprints were found on some of the abandoned items, Santina said.
“This case hinged on intention,” Santina said. “To be convicted of burglary, a person must enter a residence with the intention to steal. Mr. Gonzalez Guzman didn’t have that intention. He was simply blackout drunk.”
In a taped interview with police following his arrest, Gonzalez Guzman could recall few details of the previous hours.
During the weeklong trial, a physician specializing in alcohol and addiction medicine testified that Gonzalez Guzman’s interview appeared truthful and was consistent with the effects of a blackout.
Gonzalez Guzman also took the stand, testifying that he could remember few details. His employer and family members testified as character witnesses, stating that Gonzalez Guzman was honest and had never stolen.
“Prosecutors grossly overcharged this case,” Santina said. “Jurors examined the evidence and followed the law in reaching this verdict.”