Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Trial on fatal bludgeoning wraps up for week

The San Francisco District Attorney’s office presented its case this week in the trial of a man who fatally bludgeoned his partner with a glass pitcher in 2006.

Christopher Crandall, 37, is facing a murder conviction in the death of Guy West, 68.

One jury already convicted Crandall of second-degree murder in 2007, but in 2010 the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals tossed that verdict out.

According to Tamara Barak Aparton, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Public Defender’s office, some jurors had felt pressured into voting for murder over manslaughter because of two of the jurors’ vacation plans.

She said Crandall’s defense doesn’t dispute that he killed West, but attorney Sandy Feinland is seeking a manslaughter conviction because Crandall had been a domestic abuse victim. She didn’t know if abuse incidents had ever been documented with police.

Thursday, February 24, in San Francisco Superior Court prosecutor Linda Allen showed Judge Carol Yaggy and jurors video of homicide inspectors’ interview with Crandall that apparently had been recorded shortly after his arrest.

In the footage, which lasts for over an hour, a groggy  Crandall repeatedly deflected questions about what exactly had happened.

“We don’t think you’re a bad person,” an inspector told Crandall more than once, but “I believe something happened there, and you’re having a little difficulty telling us what happened. … You know and I know what happened.”

Crandall, who appeared in court Thursday in slacks and a striped shirt, claimed he wasn’t at all sure what had happened.

“I don’t know if I was involved with anything,” he said at one point in the video, “but if it had been something I’d done, I don’t think it would have been on purpose.”

The inspector said Crandall’s bloody fingerprints were found at the scene.

“If you did find a fingerprint and it happened to be mine, that would be evidence I did something,” Crandall acknowledged.

Feinland is expected to present his case next week.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, February 25, 2011 @ 5:04 pm PST
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