Tuesday, February 1, 2011 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco, CA — In a case connected to last year’s crime lab scandal, a jury acquitted a shooting victim of illegally possessing a firearm, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
Following a three-day trial, Derek Hall, 29, was found not guilty Monday afternoon of two counts of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. The jury deliberated for four hours before reaching its verdict, said Hall’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Carmen Aguirre.
Hall was seriously injured Feb. 8, 2010 after he was shot in the chest inside his Bayview residence. Police responding to the shooting searched Hall’s house and found the gun that shot him hidden in another room. Hall initially cooperated with police, but his assailant was never found, Aguirre said. He denied possession of the gun, which was unregistered.
Police, who had exhausted their leads, arrested Hall March 17, Aguirre said.
At the center of the trial was Hall’s November, 2009 drug sales conviction, which prosecutors argued made him a felon in possession of a firearm. However, Hall’s case hinged on evidence tested by former lab technician Deborah Madden, who subsequently resigned after allegedly stealing drugs and tainting evidence in the lab. A court ordered Hall’s plea withdrawn and his drug case was dismissed by a judge in June, 2010.
“Mr. Hall faced trial as a felon in possession of a firearm while the case that made him a felon had been dismissed,” Aguirre said.
Jurors in Hall’s gun trial agreed that the prosecution had failed to provide enough evidence to prove the case.
“It’s absurd to believe someone shot himself, then walked into the other room to hide the gun – all without spilling a drop of blood,” Aguirre said.
Hall, who has a minimal criminal record, suffered a pierced colon and liver in the shooting. He was released from custody following the trial.
“He’s going home with a fresh start. The failures of the district attorney’s office have not resulted in a failure of justice,” Aguirre said.
Adachi praised Monday’s verdict.
“While the jury came to a just decision, this case illustrates the fallout that continues nearly a year after the crime lab debacle,” Adachi said.