FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 7, 2022
MEDIA CONTACT: PubDef-MediaRelations@sfgov.org | (628)249-7946
Jury Acquits Man Who Confessed Falsely to Decades-Old Cases in Desperate Attempt to Be Moved Out of Hellish Florida Prison
Jury acquitted Roy Lacy on count 1, and hung on count 2.
SAN FRANCISCO – After a two-month trial, a San Francisco jury acquitted Roy Lacy on Nov. 3 in connection with two separate, cold-case murders that had taken place in 1999 and 2000. Lacy had confessed to the murders in 2018 while serving a prison sentence in Florida, where he had been subjected to extreme interpersonal violence—including being robbed, beaten, and having his femur broken. Lacy was serving a sentence for bank robbery by note at the time and saw a false confession to the two unsolved San Francisco murders as a way to get out of Florida and be closer to his family. San Francisco Deputy Public Defenders Elizabeth Camacho and Diamond Ward represented him in the trial. Lacy has also been sentenced to a Three Strikes life sentence in California for bank robberies in Marin County but was serving time in Florida concurrently.
Around the time of the murders—a stabbing in 1999 and a shooting in 2000—Lacy was an 18-year-old runaway in a personal relationship with an individual who is alleged to have actually committed the murders, and who has since died. Despite Lacy’s knowledge of the crimes, the details he provided in writing and in a video confession did not match any of the witness statements from 1999, and there was no physical evidence tying him to either case. The jury returned an acquittal on the first count in under an hour. The jury then hung on the second count with eight jurors voting guilty and four not guilty.
“Mr. Lacy’s words did not match the evidence, and there is no new evidence that the prosecution can bring in this case,” said Camacho. “The jury did their job, upheld the presumption of innocence, and demanded that the DA meet their burden of proof— which they did not. We are grateful to the 12 jurors who saw the humanity in Mr. Lacy, and who understood that he had no other recourse than to falsely confess to survive.”
“Mr. Lacy falsely confessing to murder is an act of extreme desperation that reflects the brutality of the prison system and the Three Strikes law. The only thing he has left is his life, which he was convinced he was going to lose in Florida, so he decided he might as well go back to California where he knows how to survive in prison and can maintain a better connection to his family,” said Ward, who added that Florida prisons have rules that make it very difficult for incarcerated individuals to receive phone calls and visits from loved ones.
Lacy has been in San Francisco County Jail awaiting trial since 2018. His Constitutionally-mandated trial deadline was in December 2021, but due to court delays, the trial did not begin until August 2022. His Florida prison term has since been completed. He will eventually be transferred to a California state prison facility to serve his life sentence from the Marin County bank robberies, and the timing depends on whether the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office intends to retry him on the second count in this case.
“Jury trials are often the only way to get to the truth. It should have been clear to law enforcement from the beginning that the facts in this case didn’t add up, yet prosecutors pursued these charges without credible evidence to support their claim,” said San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju, whose office has been pushing San Francisco Superior Court to address the alarming backlog that has delayed hundreds of trials. “This was an exceptionally complicated case, and I commend our team of skilled defenders for the care and professionalism with which they defended Mr. Lacy.”
The defense team was led by Deputy Public Defender Elizabeth Camacho with Deputy Public Defender Diamond Ward as second chair, and included Investigators Gary Sourifman, Jesse Huber and Terry Collins; Paralegal Sercan Ersoy and several additional staffers of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office.