Thursday, April 2, 2015 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco, CA — A man who testified he acted in self-defense against a roommate who raped him was acquitted of all charges in the roommate’s 2011 death, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced today.
Jurors deliberated two days before finding Waheed Kesmatyar, 28, not guilty of murder Wednesday in the death of Jack Baker, 67. Kesmatyar faced life in prison if convicted, said his attorneys, Deputy Public Defender Hadi Razzaq and Deputy Public Defender Jennifer Johnson. Jurors also had the option of convicting Kesmatyar of second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter, but cleared him of all charges.
Kesmatyar’s parents, who attended each day of the trial, wept with relief when the verdict was read.
Baker was found dead in his Nob Hill apartment Feb. 11, 2011. He had been beaten, stabbed and strangled.
The night of the killing, approximately a week before Baker’s body was discovered, Kesmatyar testified that he woke up to Baker sodomizing him. When Kesmatyar tried to leave the Bush Street apartment, Baker held him at knifepoint, cutting his finger when Kesmatyar raised his hands.
The two men struggled before Kesmatyar gained control of the knife and began stabbing his attacker, Razzaq argued.
Kesmatyar’s long history of untreated trauma, including being orphaned in war-torn Afghanistan and molested by a friend’s father following his adoption by a Marin County couple, left him suffering from severe post traumatic stress disorder, Dr. George Woods testified. The neuropsychiatrist and expert witness explained that Kesmatyar’s reaction to being violated was consistent with someone who has suffered a lifetime of trauma.
“Mr. Kesmatyar truly believed he was going to die. As far as he was concerned, he was fighting for his life,” Razzaq said.
Jurors were also swayed by evidence of an apparent sexual assault. Candles covered in condoms, as well as an open packet of lubricant were found in a bag sitting on Kesmatyar’s bed. A receipt from Baker’s credit card was also located inside the bag.
The men met while working together at Macys a decade ago. Baker invited the emotionally vulnerable Kesmatyar, then 18, to smoke marijuana at his apartment. He eventually befriended the teen before convincing him to move into his residence, his attorneys said.
“He took advantage of Mr. Kesmatyar, who had already been victimized repeatedly in his young life,” Johnson said.
A priest who provides outreach and counseling to homeless youth and prostitutes on Polk Street testified that Baker was a regular customer who he had witnessed become physically aggressive and violent with teenage boys. Kesmatyar testified that he would frequently come home to find his roommate openly watching pornography and masturbating.
Kesmatyar has been in custody since his arrest in February, 2011. He is expected to be released today.
Adachi said the verdict exonerated a young man who finally fought back after a lifetime of trauma.
“Thanks to his public defenders and a jury who carefully considered both the evidence and the testimony of medical experts, Mr. Kesmatyar and his family can now begin to heal,” Adachi said.