A 65-year-old San Francisco man was convicted of involuntary manslaughter Thursday for fatally stabbing another man in the Tenderloin in 2008, allegedly because the victim had sold him $10 worth of fake crack.
The San Francisco Superior Court jury acquitted Leroy Brown of murder and voluntary manslaughter for the Oct. 1, 2008, killing of
43-year-old Eric Robinson, settling on the lowest charge and baffling both the prosecution and the defense.
"Involuntary manslaughter is for an accident," prosecutor Scot Clark said following the verdict. "And this isn't an accident, it was an
Clark argued that Brown, a Tenderloin resident with a chronic drug problem, was enraged at Robinson for "gaffling" him out of his last $10.
"This is all because Leroy Brown got scammed, and was left with 26 cents in his pocket," Clark said.
Clark said he wasn't sure what the product Brown was sold actually was.
"All we know is it was something that looked like crack, and didn't get him high," he said.
Brown bought the fake drugs from Robinson earlier that evening, and returned at about 4 a.m. to confront Robinson in the 300 block of Ellis Street, fatally stabbing him.
"I think this was a classic second-degree murder," said Clark.
Brown's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Manohar Raju, argued the killing was self-defense.
According to Raju, when his client asked for his money back, Robinson attacked him with his fists and slammed him against a wall, and
Brown defended himself with the knife.
Raju said he was pleased Brown had been acquitted of murder, "but I feel the jury compromised and just found him guilty of something that wasn't supported by the evidence.''
Clark acknowledged that Brown was somewhat of a "sympathetic" defendant and Robinson was a "particularly reprehensible" victim.
Brown volunteered at Glide Memorial Church in the Tenderloin and had previously worked as a janitor at the California Pacific Medical Center for more than a decade, Raju said.
Raju said Brown's drug addiction developed out of a back injury he sustained when he was in the Air Force, and that he had been unable to receive the proper medication to treat it.
Brown, for his part, was upset at the verdict, Raju said. He will receive between two and four years in prison at his sentencing on Feb. 18,
but would also receive credit for 14 months he has already served in jail.