SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — A San Francisco jury acquits 81-year-old Damien Alvarez of attempted murder against his ex-wife that occurred earlier this year.
The charges against Alvarez stemmed from an incident where he and his ex-wife struggled over a knife, as she was allegedly trying to stab him.
Deputy Public Defender Martina Avalos argued that police failed to investigate Alvarez’s injuries, and that Alvarez had acted in reasonable self-defense against his live-in ex-wife whom the jury did not find credible due to multiple untruthful statements she made under oath.
“While this was a distressing incident for both parties, it is clear that Mr. Alvarez was not the aggressor in this situation,” said Avalos.
“He and his family have long suffered various forms of physical, emotional and financial abuse at the hands of his ex-wife.”
For many years, Alvarez shared an apartment in the Mission District with his ex-wife.
On the evening of June 3, 2021, the ex-wife, who is 19 years younger than Alvarez, had packed up his belongings and told him to move out.
Alvarez testified that she was “verbally violent” toward him to the point that he fled to his bedroom.
When Alvarez came back into the living room, he said his wife had placed a large kitchen knife on a table next to her.
A struggle ensued — when police arrived both of them had blood on their clothes.
The ex-wife was transported to the hospital as police officers arrested Alvarez.
Alvarez was later charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, assault likely to cause great bodily injury, battery on a domestic partner and criminal threats.
“To retry this matter would be futile and only exacerbate the conflict between the parties. Repeated efforts to obtain a conviction in this case would have a traumatic impact on Mr. Alvarez who would yet again face serious consequences despite being found credible by this jury,” Avalos said.
According to the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, police did not interview any neighbor nor did they order any forensic experts to collect blood samples from the apartment to see if some of the blood was Alvarez’.
The prosecution relied solely on the statements and testimony of the ex-wife, who made statements on the witness stand that were false, including conflicting accounts of what happened the night of the incident.
After deliberating for three days and despite numerous setbacks, including losing three jurors, the jury voted 7-5 in favor of innocence on the three assault charges against Alvarez.
“Jury trials are essentially the only opportunity to present a fuller picture of a situation than what’s written in a police report,” said San Francisco Public Defender Mano Raju, who sued SF Superior Court in September to address the backlog of hundreds of cases that are past their trial deadline.
“That’s why it’s imperative for the SF Superior Court to make more courtrooms available for trials, so that our zealous defense teams can help people like Mr. Alvarez and his family fight back against these unfounded charges.”