The fatal fall of a woman fleeing her abusive boyfriend out of a three-story window was not murder, a jury determined Thursday.
Jurors instead found Eloy Muniz, 49, guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of girlfriend Cindy Weaver. Weaver, 46, died from her injuries 17 days after the Oct. 3, 2008, fall at a friend’s home in the Mission district.
Muniz wept as the verdict was read.
“He’s very relieved,” Deputy Public Defender Mark Iverson said after the hearing, adding that his client is now sober and has taken domestic violence counseling. “I think he’s a changed person from the person who was there that night.”
Muniz had previously abused Weaver and was violating a stay-away order the night the couple had dinner together at the home. During a drunken argument, Muniz accused Weaver of infidelity; threw a glass at her, which missed; and then head-butted her.
Weaver locked herself in the bathroom while Muniz screamed and threatened to break the door down, prosecutors said. Weaver reportedly tried to climb from the window to a neighbor’s roof, or possibly down a drain pipe, when she fell.
En route to the hospital, Weaver told a police officer Muniz “was being an ass, and I was scared,” according to testimony at a 2009 hearing.
Prosecutors had argued for second-degree murder.
“I thought it was an unusual theory to go on,” Iverson said. In the legal sense, “all his actions were assaultive, but were not dangerous to human life.”
Weaver had a phone with her in the bathroom, but instead of calling police she called Muniz’s mother, Iverson said. Twelve minutes later, she climbed out of the window.
“It was such an unusual decision she made … when she had so many better alternatives,” Iverson said.
The jury foreman, who requested his name not be used, said jurors reached a verdict fairly quickly.
“He didn’t go in there after her with a knife, he didn’t smash the door down and try to kill her, he didn’t push her out the window,” the foreman said. “He caused her death, there’s no argument about that, but it wasn’t second-degree murder, it was manslaughter.”
Jurors are advised not to consider punishment, but this jury may have weighed that as well.
“He wasn’t going to walk,” said the foreman. “It wasn’t like, murder or walk.”
Muniz also was convicted of assault and other charges, and he faces a maximum of seven years and four months in prison at his sentencing next month, prosecutors said.