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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mission District Astronaut Acquitted for Methed-Out Space Flight Attempt

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 12:48 PM

click to enlarge NASA
  • NASA
Mission, we have a problem.

A man suffering from meth psychosis entered a Mission District apartment on May 31, 2014 under the delusion he would board a spaceship on its roof, according to San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi. The would-be astronaut believed the world was coming to an end and that the spaceship docking station-esque apartment building was his best bet for survival.

Santino Aviles, 41, the methed-out Mission District Astronaut, was found not guilty Monday of robbery, attempted robbery, assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury, his attorney Deputy Public Defender Jacque Wilson said. Aviles, who faced up to 14 years in prison as a result of the felony charges he racked up in his shirtless space flight attempt, got off with only two misdemeanor convictions (battery and assault). 

The jury hung on a burglary charge and a mistrial was declared Tuesday.

Aviles was originally let into the apartment after a resident buzzed him in, but when Aviles tried to gain access to the roof, that same resident grew suspicious and told him to leave. Still hoping to be rescued from earth's imminent destruction, Aviles took one small step onto the fire escape, and one giant leap into an open apartment window.

Once inside, Aviles promptly took off his shoes and shirt and passed out on the couch, apparently willing to abort his initial plans for space flight that evening. But when he awoke, he remembered his plans and began, once again, hurriedly preparing for his launch.

He threw the resident's inflatable exercise ball onto the fire escape, planning to float with it through the galaxy, he testified. He also put items he thought he might need on the inter-planetary journey into the resident's backpack, including a passport (not his) that he testified he believed would ensure his seat on the spaceship.

Somewhere in the middle of Aviles detailed and highly organized launch preparations, the resident of the apartment awoke to find a shirtless Aviles suffering from meth psychosis in his living room, authorities said. The resident tackled and began punching Aviles while his girlfriend struck him a baseball bat and called 911. 

Aviles suffered a black eye and some other bruises, and the resident later developed a rash, according to the Public Defender's Office.

An expert witness testified to the severity of symptoms associated with meth psychosis, including delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations.

“Mr. Aviles did not enter the building to rob or hurt anyone,” Wilson said. “This was not the act of a violent criminal but a frightened man in the midst of a mental health crisis.”

No word yet on if Aviles met the requirements for space travel enhancements.
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About The Author

Matt Saincome

Matt Saincome

Matt Saincome is SF Weekly's former music editor.

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