Thursday, April 14, 2011 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco, CA — A jury promptly acquitted a 49-year-old man of domestic violence after determining the complaining witness’ testimony was an “escalating fantasy,” San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
The jury deliberated just over an hour Tuesday afternoon before finding Phillip Ma, 49, not guilty of misdemeanor domestic battery, said Ma’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender James Conger.
“The jury stated they felt this case was a waste of taxpayer money. The testimony of the witness was so far-fetched, jury members wondered why the DA didn’t drop the case,” Conger said.
Ma, who had no history of domestic violence or any other crime, was arrested at his North Beach apartment Sept. 4, 2010 after his wife alleged that he punched her in the face. During the 911 call, Ma is heard in the background warning his wife in Chinese that filing a false police offense is a serious offense. When officers arrived, they could find no injuries on Ma’s wife. Officers described Ma, who suffers from a degenerative spine disease, as calm.
But it was the complaining witness’ over-the-top trial testimony that convinced the jurors of Ma’s innocence, Conger said.
On the stand, Ma’s wife’s story became increasingly dramatic. For the first time, she alleged that Ma, during the same altercation, choked her until she believed she would die. She also stated that Ma’s sisters frequently threaten to shoot her to death.
The jurors determined she was not credible and described her testimony as an “escalating fantasy,” according to Conger.
“This case demonstrates how easily a false allegation of domestic violence can make it all the way to trial,” Conger said. “Luckily for Mr. Ma, the complaining witness was a particularly bad liar.”
Adachi praised the jurors for their verdict.
“There simply was no evidence of wrongdoing against Mr. Ma,” Adachi said. “Jury members carefully evaluated his accuser’s testimony and determined it was unreliable.”