A 30-year-old housepainter was convicted Thursday of voluntary manslaughter for running down a pedestrian during a drunken traffic dispute in the Mission district in 2007.
About 2 a.m. March 20, 2007, 24-year-old Randall Gross and a friend were crossing the street near 16th and Valencia streets when they encountered a red Toyota Tercel driven by Hamilton Diaz.
An argument ensued, followed by a drunken Gross smashing Diaz’s windshield with his fist. Seconds later Diaz, who also had been drinking that night, drove up on the sidewalk and hit Gross. Diaz was arrested shortly after leaving the scene.
Prosecutors had argued for murder, saying Gross had been walking away when Diaz “put his foot to the gas” and sent Gross flying into the air. The defense maintained Diaz had “snapped” and acted in the “heat of passion.”
On Tuesday, the jury found Diaz guilty of hit-and-run, and Thursday convicted him of voluntary manslaughter and an allegation of the use of a deadly weapon.
Diaz’s attorney, Mark Goldrosen, said he was “very pleased” with the verdict.
“I think that the jury, when it heard the evidence related to the heated confrontation and the provocative acts of the victim, truly understood the concept of reasonable doubt,” Goldrosen said. Goldrosen said his client, who still faces 14 years in prison, was nonetheless “very, very happy” with the verdict.