San Francisco, CA — The case against a man accused of beating a tourist unconscious and stealing his Louis Vuitton wallet with $2,000 cash inside was dismissed today, less than 24-hours after jurors deadlocked, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi announced.
After six hours of deliberation, jurors on Thursday afternoon hung 8-4 in favor of acquitting Tyree Mosley, 29, of robbery and battery causing great bodily injury, said Mosley’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Tal Klement. Mosley, a San Francisco resident, faced eight years in prison if convicted. The District Attorney dismissed the case at a hearing this morning.
Mosley was arrested at gunpoint May 18 after a taxi driver identified him to police as the man he saw hassle a couple for money at Mason and Ellis just before 3 a.m. The taxi driver said Mosley then punched the man in the face three times, leaving him bloodied and unconscious. The tourists, a 25-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman from Texas, were returning from the Infusion Lounge. The man later told police his attacker had stolen his Louis Vuitton wallet with $2,000 in cash inside.
During the weeklong trial, Klement argued that Mosley was a victim of mistaken identity, citing the lack of physical evidence against him and the conflicting and compromised descriptions of the robber.
The taxi driver initially called 911, telling the dispatcher that the assailant was wearing black and white pants and a gray shirt. The cab driver said he then saw the man run down Mason toward Turk and Taylor streets and decided to follow him. The robber shed some of his clothes on Turk Street. Now shirtless, he walked up to two men and showed them the wallet. When the men attempted to take the wallet, the bare-chested bandit knocked each of them out with a single punch, according to the taxi driver.
The cabbie then returned to Mason and Ellis streets and flagged down police, telling them he knew who committed the robbery. But when police followed the driver to Turk and Taylor, the shirtless man was no longer there. The taxi driver, frustrated that the man appeared to have escaped, turned up Taylor Street and spotted Mosley wearing a dark shirt and dark pants and walking with his arm around a woman. He told police that Mosley was the robber. Police stopped Mosley at gunpoint and searched him, but found no Louis Vuitton wallet and no $2,000. The robbery victim’s intoxicated and upset girlfriend, who did not see the robbery itself, identified Mosley in a cold show as the attacker.
During the trial, an eyewitness identification expert testified that a break in observation, as experienced by the taxi driver, often leads to misidentification. The cold show identification by the woman also had problems, notably her intoxication and the fact that it was a cross-racial identification. The woman is white and Mosley is black.
The woman also took the stand, testifying that the assailant had dreadlocks. Mosley does not have dreadlocks and did not have dreadlocks at the time of the crime. She admitted she could not identify Mosley as the man who robbed her boyfriend.
The complaining witness also described his assailant as having dreadlocks. Despite that, he pointed out Mosley in the courtroom as the man who beat and robbed him. The tourist’s medical records showed his blood alcohol level was more than .20 at the time of crime, and he was unable to describe the robber’s facial features.
“The case illustrated the well-documented problems of mistaken eyewitness identification,” Klement said. “There was a complete lack of physical evidence against Mr. Mosley. He did not have any money or the wallet stolen from the victim, and although the victim was covered in blood, Mr. Mosley didn’t have a single drop of blood on him.”
Adachi said the case illustrates how an innocent person can be accused of a crime simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Mr. Mosley was frightened and confused when he was surrounded by police and arrested at gunpoint. It’s unfortunate that this case made it to trial, but thanks to the thorough work of Mr. Mosley’s public defender, justice was finally served,” Adachi said.