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Friday, March 12, 2010

S.F. Jury Buys Story of Meth-Addled Serial Thief Who Says He Was Just Good Samaritan

Posted By and on Fri, Mar 12, 2010 at 3:59 PM

click to enlarge Hey, sometimes things aren't as they seem...
  • Hey, sometimes things aren't as they seem...
Men and women are doubtless acquitted of auto burglary in cities across the U.S. every day. But we're guessing that few do so based on such marvelous exculpatory stories as 28-year-old San Francisco resident Weston Reynolds.

Yesterday afternoon, Reynolds was acquitted by a jury on charges of felony auto burglary and receiving stolen property, according to a press release from Public Defender Jeff Adachi's office. (He was convicted on a misdemeanor charge of vehicle tampering.) One October evening last year, security guards found him rifling through the glove compartment of a Honda Civic at a garage in Hayes Valley.

BUT WAIT. Reynolds had an explanation. See, he was walking by, and saw the unlocked car with the window down, and so thought he'd be a Good Samaritan and, you know, roll it up. But the car had automatic windows, so he went through the glove compartment looking for the owner's contact information in order to alert him or her to the problem. Wouldn't you do the same thing?

When security guards found him, he lied and said the car belonged to his aunt -- because he "knew it looked bad," according to a statement from deputy public defender Phoenix Streets. In a bizarre twist, he also called the car owner's emergency roadside assistance number, which he had found in the paperwork. "I've never heard of a burglar calling roadside assistance," Streets explained in his statement.

Uh, yeah. Neither have we.

It gets better. We put in a call to Brian Buckelew, spokesman for the district attorney's office, who gave us some other pertinent details of Reynolds' case. According to Buckelew, Reynolds was on active parole for grand theft at the time of his arrest in October; has been arrested for theft six times in San Francisco; and admitted on the stand at trial that he had used methamphetamine the night he undertook his act of Good Samaritanism. Had enough?

Buckelew was at a loss to explain the jury's decision not to convict, but noted that Reynolds had been in custody since October, and that his long period of incarceration and relative youth may have swayed jurors to look kindly on his case. "Sympathies may have overridden common sense," Buckelew said.

Reynolds is now free to walk the streets, rolling up car windows at will. Welcome to trial by jury in San Francisco.

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Peter Jamison


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