Tuesday, December 24, 2013 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco, CA — A man charged with murder in a 2012 stabbing in the Bayview District was acquitted of all charges today after a jury determined he acted in self-defense against an attacker who had previously bullied and threatened him, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced.
Jurors deliberated more than three days before finding San Francisco resident Howard Frazier, 47, not guilty of murder, said his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Kleigh Hathaway. Frazier was charged in the Feb. 15, 2012 stabbing of 54-year-old Luther Robinson III at Third Street and Palou Avenue.
Six weeks before the fatal confrontation, Robinson had chased and assaulted Frazier with a club, threatening to kill him. Frazier testified that following the first attack, he learned of Robinson’s string of convictions for violence and became fearful for his life. Frazier testified that he tried to diffuse the conflict by talking to Robinson’s brother, but when the two men ran into each other again, Robinson pursued Frazier.
Frazier, who was considerably smaller than Robinson and was disabled due to back surgery, warned Robinson that he had a knife. When Robinson grabbed Frazier by the vest, Frazier stabbed him once with a pocket knife. Robinson died a short time later at the hospital.
“Mr. Frazier did even more than the law requires in a case of self-defense,” Hathaway said. “When he was assaulted six weeks earlier, he ran. Then, fearing retribution, he requested help from Mr. Robinson’s brother and, finally, he warned Mr. Robinson that he had a knife and only used it as a last resort to protect himself.”
While the conflict between the men ended in tragedy, Mr. Frazier did not commit a crime, Adachi said.
“Mr. Frazier did everything he could to avoid a fight. The evidence presented by Mr. Frazier’s public defender showed he was genuinely afraid he was going to be killed and acted to preserve his own life,” Adachi said.
Frazier, a father of four, is expected to be released Christmas Eve.
The two week trial was heard in front of Judge Harold Kahn. Assistant District Attorney Todd Barrett was the prosecutor in the case.