Friday, June 8, 2012
A jury has acquitted a San Francisco man who threw hot oil in his roommate’s face, after the defendant argued that he had been attacked first and was only protecting himself.
Felipe Manrique and his new roommate, fellow restaurant worker Pedro Torres, 49, had already gotten off to a bad start before the incident. Manrique, 48, thought Torres was holding out on $100 in rent for their Tenderloin apartment, defense lawyers said, and he suspected Torres of stealing two rings from the bedroom they shared.
After two weeks together, Manrique told Torres in mid-February that he wanted him out, the defense said.
It all came to a head when Manrique returned home to 300 Jones St. from a couple of bars around 2:40 a.m. Feb. 28, started frying up breakfast and noticed Torres “staring him down,” the public defender’s office said.
When Manrique brought up the missing rings again, Torres told him he was going to “kick his ass” and lunged at him, throwing a punch, defense attorneys said.
“Mr. Manrique responded by moving his right hand reflexively in self-defense while holding the frying pan,” splashing the oil in Torres’ face, said Deputy Public Defender Matt Sotorosen.
Torres was taken to the hospital with second-degree burns, and Manrique was charged with three felony assault and battery charges.
The Superior Court jury took 30 minutes Wednesday to acquit him.
Both Torres and Manrique testified during the four-day trial. “Their stories were very different, but the jury found Mr. Manrique to be far more credible,” Sotorosen said.
“This type of case is difficult to prove,” said Stephanie Ong Stillman, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office. “There were no witnesses and two different versions of the facts.”
She added, “This was a tough case, and we respect the jury’s decision.”
Will Kane is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @WillKane
This article appeared on page C – 3 of the San Francisco Chronicle