Wednesday, May 15, 2013 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco, CA — A skateboarder accused of causing a man’s fatal heart arrhythmia following a confrontation on Golden Gate Park’s “Hippie Hill” has been acquitted of murder and robbery, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
Jurors deliberated approximately three days before finding 24-year-old Marcus “Wolfie” Herrera not guilty Tuesday of the April 27, 2012 murder and robbery of 55-year-old Robert Musial, said Herrera’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Rebecca Young. Jurors also acquitted Herrera of assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, convicting him of the lesser, included charge of misdemeanor assault.
Herrera was also convicted of one count of assault with a deadly weapon. Herrera, who faced life in prison, will face a maximum of four years behind bars when he is sentenced June 7.
The argument shortly before Musial’s death stemmed from a dispute between Musial and his marijuana dealer, Jeremy “Christian” Brinker, who had fronted Musial $5,000 worth of marijuana two months earlier and had not been repaid. Brinker, who believed Musial had been avoiding his calls and texts, spotted him on Hippie Hill at approximately 6 p.m. Brinker planned to confront Musial about the debt and skateboarded to Alvord Lake in search of someone to accompany him. Herrera, an acquaintance, agreed to be a witness to the confrontation and both men skated back to Hippie Hill.
Herrera testified that during the ensuing argument, he nudged Musial with his skateboard several times in the shoulder and legs after Musial appeared to advance toward Brinker.
Brinker subsequently pleaded guilty in February to robbery, voluntary manslaughter and false imprisonment in exchange for nine years in state prison and his testimony in Herrera’s trial. Brinker testified Herrera’s participation in the confrontation was brief. When it ended, Brinker and Musial walked down the hill to Sharon Meadows, continuing to argue while Herrera “faded into the background.” Brinker admitted to picking up Musial’s debit card, which had fallen to the ground, but claimed he never used it. Herrera was not present when Brinker pocketed the card.
Approximately 30 minutes after the confrontation, police were called to the park’s carousel area about 700 feet away from Hippie Hill, where Musial was found on a bench, struggling to breathe. He died moments later and the cause of death was established as a probable lethal cardiac arrhythmia.
At trial, a witness testified that another man confessed to beating Musial by the carousel, following Musial’s confrontation with Brinker and Herrera on Hippie Hill. The man who claimed to have attacked Musial was located, but invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify. The medical examiner who performed the autopsy testified that it was impossible to know whether or not Musial’s cardiac event was caused by a confrontation.
Young told the jury that the case against Herrera was “outrageously overcharged and under proven.”
Adachi commended the jury for focusing on the evidence.
“This was a very complicated case involving over a dozen witnesses and conflicting statements. Members of the jury carefully weighed all of the testimony and physical evidence and determined that Mr. Herrera was not responsible for Mr. Musial’s death,” Adachi said.