San Francisco Public Defender Successfully Frees Client; Fights Back Against a Life-in-Prison Charge

SAN FRANCISCO – Yesterday, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office secured freedom for a man who spent nearly 5 months in jail for an incident wherein he acted in self-defense. The agreed upon plea arrangement to a misdemeanor charge allowed the man to avoid a potential life in prison sentence and to immediately gain release from jail, where the risk of contracting Covid-19 remains high.

The charges arose from an incident where Anthony Prater, 53, fought a man he said pulled a knife on him on March 26. Police arrested Mr. Prater, primarily because the other man had suffered a cut to his leg during the struggle. Unbeknownst to police at the time, the alleged victim had a history of violence and threatening behavior.

Mr. Prater was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, considered a strike under California’s three-strikes law, and premeditated attempted murder. The legal defense team led by Deputy Public Defender Kathleen Natividad successfully negotiated a lesser misdemeanor assault charge after beginning the trial when prosecutors admitted they could not prove their case. “Mr. Prater accepted the plea deal, despite professing his innocence, so that he could immediately be released from custody,” said Natividad.

“We are pleased Mr. Prater escaped a charge wherein he was facing life in prison, but are disappointed the case was not dismissed in its entirety,” said Public Defender Mano Raju. “The result speaks for itself; the case was over-charged from the beginning. Pleas often happen despite innocence when people cannot fight their cases from out of custody.”

Several attempts to get Mr. Prater released from jail prior to trial, where the threat of contracting COVID-19 was a major concern, were unsuccessful.

On Wednesday, Mr. Prater will be released to supportive housing that was coordinated by social workers at the Public Defender’s Office.  Prater’s attorney “Kathleen Natividad and her team worked extremely hard and did an extraordinary job with this case. I believe she would have secured a not guilty verdict if they had completed the trial.” said Raju.



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