The trial of a former NFL and USC lineman accused of racially motivated attacks on a homeless man has ended with a jury refusing to convict him on any charges.
Chris Brymer, who was the subject of a September cover story in SF Weekly, was acquitted yesterday on two counts of hate-crime battery and one count of criminal threatening. The jury hung on a fourth charge of assault, though it was deadlocked 10-2 in favor of acquittal, according to Brymer's lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Nicole Solis.
Brymer was accused of threatening Henry Therkield in a soup kitchen at Mission Rock and 3rd Street on July 19. According to prosecutors, he then attacked Therkield's friend, Shaun Parker, outside the soup kitchen, saying, "Die, nigger, die." Brymer was also charged with assaulting Parker the next day at a Muni stop in Mission Bay.
However, Muni surveillance videos presented at trial showed that Brymer and Parker had not interacted with each other at the Mission Bay tram stop. Therkield, when interviewed by SF Weekly, also recanted the story he had initially told the police, saying that Brymer had never threatened him. In a subsequent interview, he said Parker had told him to lie about the use of racial epithets in the hope of some form of compensation from the district attorney's office.
Parker, a violent felon with multiple past convictions, also had a hard time hewing to his story during his trial testimony, according to a statement from the office of Public Defender Jeff Adachi.
The DA's office did not return a call for comment on the jury's decision. The felony assault charge that hung the jury could be refiled against Brymer if prosecutors decide to take another crack at the case.
Brymer's friends and family believe that he suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disorder, causing irrational and often criminal behavior, that increasingly is being diagnosed in high-level football players. Prior to his arrest, he had been living homeless in the Dogpatch neighborhood. While Brymer may have managed to avoid a conviction and prison sentence this time around, what the future holds for him is far from clear.