A man accused of murder in a stabbing in the Bayview district's Mendell Plaza was acquitted of all charges Tuesday when a jury decided the defendant acted in self-defense, the Public Defender's Office announced.
San Francisco resident Howard Frazier, 47, was found not guilty of murder in the Feb. 15, 2012, stabbing death of 54-year-old Luther Robinson, Public Defender's Office spokeswoman Tamara Barak Aparton said. Jurors deliberated for more than three days before returning the verdict.
The day of the incident, Robinson and Frazier were reportedly involved in some kind of argument before Robinson was stabbed. He later died from the injuries at a hospital.
At the time, many members of Robinson's family and the community mourned the victim, a retired merchant marine. Others lamented the troubled Mendell Plaza as an open-air drug market and hotbed for other crimes.
Deputy Public Defender Kleigh Hathaway painted a very different picture to the jury, one where Frazier was the victim and Robinson the aggressor.
Six weeks before the fatal confrontation, according to Hathaway, Robinson had reportedly chased and assaulted Frazier with a club, threatening to kill him. Frazier testified in court that after his first altercation with Robinson, he learned that Robinson had a violent past and became fearful for his life.
Frazier testified that he tried to defuse the situation by talking with Robinson's brother, but when the two men ran into each other later, Robinson pursued Frazier.
Frazier warned Robinson that he had a knife, Aparton said, and when Robinson grabbed Frazier by the vest, Frazier stabbed him once with a pocket knife.
"Mr. Frazier did even more than the law requires in a case of self-defense," Hathaway said. "He warned Mr. Robinson that he had a knife and only used it as a last resort to protect himself."
Frazier, a father of four, was expected to be released on Christmas Eve, Aparton said, but is still in custody on separate charges unrelated to the homicide case, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Frazier will be back in court Jan. 2 for a hearing related to those other charges, District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Stephanie Ong Stillman said.