Attorney wants man to avoid trial, go to prison for San Francisco hammer attack 

The attorney for a man accused of brutally assaulting his estranged wife with a hammer said his client should go to prison — possibly for the rest of his life — but he hopes to avoid a needless trial in an already-­overburdened court system.

Steve Acosta, 59, has been in jail since April 16, 2008, after what prosecutors allege were two weeks of vicious attacks on Kimberley Celoni at her Twin Peaks home. Celoni reportedly had skull fractures and was permanently disfigured.

Acosta is facing charges of attempted murder, torture, aggravated mayhem, stalking, criminal threats, residential burglary and violating a restraining order. He has two prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and is facing a life sentence.

“The injuries are significant; it was a terrible attack,” Acosta’s attorney, Floyd Andrews, said. “Everybody in the world knows he did it. Do we really have to have a seven-week trial?”

Andrews said he has been waiting for a plea deal from prosecutors that he hoped would allow his client, whose health is failing, “a 1 percent chance” to die outside prison. He’s suggested a 10- to 20-year sentence.

“He’s unlikely to survive a long period of incarceration, but the DA insists on trying the case,” Andrews said.

District Attorney’s Office spokesman Seth Steward said his office will go forward with the case.

“The defendant is a very dangerous individual and this is a very serious case,” Steward said.

Jury selection is set to begin Monday.

Beverly Upton of the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium said she was familiar with the case and worried the defense is trying “to negotiate this in the media” right before trial.

“He needs to be held accountable for this,” she said.

Andrews said Acosta, a former dockworker, had fought off drug addiction, but after back surgery in 2007, he fell off the wagon and “got dope-crazy.” He began accusing Celoni of cheating on him. Acosta moved out of her house, filed for divorce and ended up homeless, turning up the following April to confront her and beat her severely, Andrews said.

A trial for Acosta would be costly and time-consuming, Andrews said.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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