A San Francisco murder suspect's attorney sought assurances Wednesday that he would not be arrested for arranging what prosecutors called a "blatant act of witness intimidation" involving eight suspected gang members who stood up during a witness' testimony.
The defendant, Charles "Cheese" Heard, 25, was ordered to stand trial Wednesday on murder, attempted robbery and weapons charges linked to the slaying of Richard Barrett, 29, outside a Broadway nightclub in November 2008. Prosecutors say that Heard was after Barrett's gem-encrusted pendant of the Flintstones' Bamm-Bamm character.
During the first day of the preliminary hearing on Tuesday, just as a star witness was asked whether she recognized anyone as responsible for Barrett's shooting, eight reputed gang members stood up in unison, crossed their arms and stared at the witness.
The witness - a Texas woman who was in San Francisco for a conference and with friends when she saw the 1 a.m. shooting - nonetheless identified Heard as the gunman.
Prosecutor Michael Swart vociferously objected that the eight men who stood up amounted to "blatant witness intimidation."
After the hearing, the eight men were arrested on suspicion of gang-related witness intimidation. It is not clear who ordered the arrests. No decision has been made as yet on whether the men will be formally charged.
Heard's attorney, Eric Safire, acknowledged Wednesday that he arranged the incident to possibly confuse the identification by the witness.
Safire then sought assurances from Judge Wallace Douglass and the prosecutor that he would be immune from prosecution. "Before I continue, I want a representation from the district attorney's office that I'm not going to be arrested," Safire said, adding that the men were "here at my request - I motioned for them to stand up."
He said the men's arrest created a "chilling effect on my ability to represent my client." He threatened to withdraw from the case.
"I don't want to get arrested," the defense attorney explained later. "If (the eight men arrested Tuesday) intimidated the witness, you know what my cross examination would do to her?"
I know what you're thinking... what a punk! Oops... he's a scumbag lawyer and I might get sued!
Aw, fuck it... FUCK YOU ERIC SAFIRE!
Anywho... so you'd think that this blatant case of witness intimidation would be enough to get even the criminal-loving S.F. D.A.'s office off it's butt and protect those who put murderers away.
Seven suspected gang members arrested in San Francisco for allegedly intimidating a courtroom witness were freed Thursday, as prosecutors said they needed more time to decide whether to file charges.
The men had been held for two days stemming from the incident Tuesday during a preliminary hearing for Charles "Cheese" Heard, 25, accused of murdering Richard Barrett in November 2008.
The seven men stood up with arms folded just as the prosecution's star witness was asked whether she saw the killer in the courtroom.
Heard's attorney, Eric Safire, says he orchestrated the display as a way to ensure the woman's identification was fair. The seven men in the audience, he said, all had gold grills on their teeth, as did Heard.
The men were arrested as they left the courtroom.
Prosecutors offered no specifics Thursday for why they were not filing charges. They said only that the probe remains "open and active" and that they will make a decision once the investigation is complete.
Safire welcomed the men's release. He noted that Superior Court Judge Wallace Douglass, who was presiding over the hearing for Heard, said their display had not amounted to witness intimidation.
"There was nothing illegal about what I attempted to do," Safire said.
Again... you would think I'd be used to this by now... the bald-faced lying, the caving in to criminals, the failing to protect the people who are trying to do the right thing.
It's a damn good thing this woman lives in Texas. Bad things happen to people when they count on the D.A.'s office to protect them.
And while I admire the woman's courage in standing up to the thugs... I wonder if it's worth it?
Maybe she should just go back to Texas and forget the whole thing happened. One thug kills another in a town that doesn't give a fuck about right and wrong. Really, who fucking cares?
The "cross-armed 7" will all probably be dead in a few years anyway, along with their homeboy who will spend the rest of his life (which, in Cali means 15 to 'whenever everyone forgets about it') in the pen.
All in a town with enough human sewage to keep dirtbag lawyers like Eric Safire rolling in dough.
Go Texas lady... live life, be happy. And don't give a passing thought to us. We don't deserve it.