San Francisco, CA – A San Francisco jury found Richard Carelli, 39, not guilty of first-degree murder in connection with the December 2007 death of Leonard Milo Hoskins. The jury deadlocked evenly on the charge of second degree murder.

Prosecutors alleged that Carelli killed Hoskins by hitting him with a board and then smothering him with a pillow, before disposing of the body in Carelli’s van. According to Carelli’s deputy public defender, Rebecca Young, Carelli and Hoskins, 49, were engaged in a fight when Hoskins, a chronic methamphetamine user with a history of heart trouble, died of cardiac arrhythmia.

“This case came down to scientific evidence, which showed that there was more than a reasonable doubt that my client was responsible for Mr. Hoskin’s death,” Deputy Public Defender Rebecca Young said. “The trial was basically a battle of the experts and in the end the evidence showed that Mr. Hoskins likely died of a heart condition.”

News of Hoskins’ death made headlines after San Francisco police failed to find Hoskins’ body in Carelli’s impounded van for several days.

“The medical examiner was unable to definitively rule on the cause of death, and could not rule out the possibility that Mr. Hoskins died of a cardiac arrhythmia” Young said. “The prosecution was unable to substantiate their claim that a murder had occurred with any hard evidence.”

Carelli said that after he realized that Hoskins was dead, he panicked and put the body in the van. He then left San Francisco with Michelle Pinkerton, 39, who was charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact.

Carelli’s case is scheduled to be set for a new trial date on August 24, 2009. Both Carelli and Pinkerton remain in custody.

The mission of the Public Defender’s office is to provide vigorous, effective, competent and ethical legal representation to persons who are accused of crime and cannot afford to hire an attorney. Established in 1921, the San Francisco Public Defender has a long, proud history of providing top-notch representation to its clients, and championing programs that help people turn their lives around.

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