Much-hyped case ends with thud

Witnesses in the trial about a well-publicized New Year’s brawl in San Francisco could agree on many things: there was underage drinking, adrenaline pumping and a lopsided beating that resulted in some serious injuries.

But what three Yale University students couldn’t agree on was who was responsible. Now, the two 20-year-old men who faced years in prison if convicted in the Jan. 1, 2007, Baker’s Dozen attack case have beaten the serious charges.

Richard Aicardi and Brian Dwyer were charged with felony counts of assault and battery for an alleged attack on two members of the a cappella group, Evan Gogel and William Bailey. Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kelly dismissed all charges Wednesday except for one misdemeanor assault charge against Aicardi.

Kelly said she was “very, very troubled” by, and “very sorry for,” the attack on two members of the a cappella group, but added that there was not sufficient evidence to hold Aicardi and Dwyer accountable.

The case appeared doomed from the start. Police made no arrests on the night of the beating, and the Yale students didn’t fill out reports or observe photo lineups until days after the party in the Richmond district.

The District Attorney’s Office took more than two months to charge the case, and Sharyar Aziz Jr., a Baker’s Dozen member whose jaw was broken in two places, wasn’t even named as a victim in the criminal case.

Kelly called the fact that police did not conduct a photo lineup of suspects to witnesses at the scene that night”troubling.”

The witness testimony that began Monday further showed the weaknesses in the case against Aicardi and Dwyer. Gogel described how he was attacked twice, once as he went to help his friend and again minutes later when he was chased and tackled by a group of men.

As he lay on his side in the “fetal position” with his fists covering his face, Gogel never thought to remember the faces of his attackers, according to his testimony. The mysterious woman who threw her body over Gogel to stop the beating was never identified.

Aicardi is still facing charges because one of the Yale students, Bailey, was able to identify him in the preliminary trial as the one who punched him in the face.

The only reason Dwyer was even in the courtroom, according to his attorney, Tony Brass, was because he admitted to police that he kicked someone, but that he didn’t remember who he kicked.

“He didn’t start this fight. He didn’t end this fight. He didn’t even want to participate in this fight,” Brass said of his client.

There was no statement from the District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday because the misdemeanor assault case against Aicardi is still pending, but the prosecutor, Rick Forman, called the decision “very disappointing.”

bbegin@examiner.com

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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