Appeals court orders new trial in bludgeoning case 

A state appeals court in San Francisco on Thursady overturned the second-degree murder conviction of a man in the bludgeoning death of his former roommate in the victim's apartment in The City's Tenderloin District.

A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal ordered a new trial for Christopher Crandall, 37, in the slaying of Guy West, 68, in 2006.

Crandall was convicted of second-degree murder in San Francisco Superior Court in 2007 and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

Evidence at the trial indicated that the two men had once had a sexual relationship and had been roommates in West's Polk Street apartment, according to the court.

The panel said Crandall was denied a fair trial because of a combination of two types of jury misconduct.

The court said one factor was that jurors during deliberations improperly discussed Crandall's failure to testify at the trial, although they were instructed not to consider or talk about that issue.

The second factor was that some jurors put pressure on others to reach a decision so that two members of the jury could go ahead with plans to travel to Greece and New York, the court said.

In another case, a different panel of the Court of Appeal upheld the second-degree murder conviction of Steven Burr, 41, for the beating and strangulation of his wife, Diana Besham, 40, in their Rodeo home.

Burr was convicted in Contra Costa County Superior Court and sentenced in 2008 to 15 years to life in prison.

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Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

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