San Francisco, CA— Three men on trial for two Visitacion Valley killings were found not guilty of all charges by a San Francisco jury Tuesday.
Joc Wilson, 23, Floyd Jackson, 22 and, Emon Brown, 21, faced first-degree murder charges in addition to gang and firearm enhancements. The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The jury deliberated for just over one day before reaching its verdict.
All three men were accused of the fatal shooting of Brandon Perkins, 29, on Aug. 2, 2007. Brown and Wilson were charged with gunning down Byron Smith, 32, exactly one month later.
All were indicted by a grand jury Feb. 21, 2008.
Prosecutors alleged the shootings were part of a territorial battle between rival Visitacion Valley gangs.
The six-month trial relied solely on thin circumstantial evidence, said Deputy Public Defender Steve Olmo, who represents Wilson. The prosecution focused on Wilson’s DNA, which was found on the handlebar of a bicycle ridden by one of the gunmen in Smith’s killing.
“The case against Mr. Wilson was all smoke and mirrors,” Olmo said. “The prosecution’s star witness told multiple, conflicting stories about what he claimed to have seen. We were able to show that Mr. Wilson wasn’t even in the area when the shootings occurred, and the initial identification of suspects didn’t match Mr. Wilson’s profile.”
Three witnesses to Smith’s killing did not identify Wilson as being one of the gunmen. Two of the witnesses excluded him from lineups, while a third was emphatic that Wilson was not present, Olmo said.
Olmo also established that the DNA found on the handlebar of the bicycle didn’t prove that his client participated in the killing.
“The DNA was found in the ridges of the handlebar and was likely there long before this crime occurred,” Olmo said.
Meanwhile, the key witness to Perkins’ killing admitted to smoking marijuana when shots rang out. He changed his testimony often, including saying he didn’t witness the crime at all.
The guns used in the killings were never recovered.
“This case shows that DNA evidence can be misused and misinterpreted,” said San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi. “Fortunately, in this case, the defense was able to prove that the presence of DNA on a bicycle doesn’t equate to being guilty of murder.”
Brown was represented by defense attorney Tony Tamburello, while Jackson was represented by Alex Reisman.