Score one for our Public Defender's office this week: A jury just acquitted a homeless man in a stabbing incident earlier this year that resulted in his victim, another homeless man, having to use a colostomy bag. 57-year-old Gregory Ishengoma, a homeless former merchant seaman, claimed he had been beaten bloody by the man he ultimately stabbed over a shelter bed in a Bayview church on January 8. The man followed him out of the shelter, seemed threatening, and Ishengoma stabbed him once in the abdomen because he feared for his own safety after the initial altercation.
The man ended up hospitalized for months with an infection and other complications. When he was healthy again, upon seeing Ishengoma at a shelter in May, he called police calling for his arrest, apparently angry that no charges had been filed against him for the stabbing.
As Public Defender Jeff Adachi's office tells us:
During the weeklong trial, the injured man took the stand, testifying that Ishengoma “got his ass whupped” for taking the [shelter bed]. The man appeared hostile on the stand, admitting he was an angry, short-tempered person who had committed violence against women and men alike.
“The complaining witness made it clear to the jurors that he was not a man who listened to reason,” Mitchell said. “As a result, Mr. Ishengoma had to resort to defending himself with a knife.”
Jurors deliberated for only two hours before acquitting Ishengoma, who was released from jail on Tuesday after spending three months behind bars. He had not been able to afford the $200,000 bail.
Adachi said today, "Defending yourself is a right, not a crime. Mr. Ishengoma had been beaten bloody and followed down the street by his tormentor. He was understandably concerned for his life. Thanks to his public defender, the jury set him free."