Yesterday, 28-year-old Waheed Kesmatyar was found not guilty on all charges in a strange and sad case that dates back to 2011, relating to the killing of his 67-year-old roommate Jack Baker. At trial, public defenders presented evidence that Kesmatyar acted in self-defence, and also acted violently as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder, after an apparent sexual assault.
The Public Defender's Office relays the tale, as told at Kesmatyar's trial, of a young boy of 18 who met Baker while working at Macy's in San Francisco. After occasionally smoking pot together at Baker's apartment at 1035 Bush Street, and becoming friends, Baker invited Kesmatyar to move into his apartment. But here's where things get a little strange in the timeline (Kesmatyar was 24 at the time of the killing), and where one might see homophobia could have come into play in the verdict and where it's impossible to know if Kesmatyar is telling the whole truth.
But here's the version told to the jury:
Baker was found dead in his Nob Hill apartment Feb. 11, 2011. He had been beaten, stabbed and strangled.
The night of the killing, approximately a week before Baker’s body was discovered, Kesmatyar testified that he woke up to Baker sodomizing him. When Kesmatyar tried to leave the Bush Street apartment, Baker held him at knifepoint, cutting his finger when Kesmatyar raised his hands. The two men struggled before Kesmatyar gained control of the knife and began stabbing his attacker, [argued public defender Hadi Razzaq].
Kesmatyar’s long history of untreated trauma, including being orphaned in war-torn Afghanistan and molested by a friend’s father following his adoption by a Marin County couple, left him suffering from severe post traumatic stress disorder, Dr. George Woods testified. The neuropsychiatrist and expert witness explained that Kesmatyar’s reaction to being violated was consistent with someone who has suffered a lifetime of trauma.
“Mr. Kesmatyar truly believed he was going to die. As far as he was concerned, he was fighting for his life,” Razzaq said.
Jurors were also swayed by evidence of an apparent sexual assault. Candles covered in condoms, as well as an open packet of lubricant were found in a bag sitting on Kesmatyar’s bed. A receipt from Baker’s credit card was also located inside the bag.
Kesmatyar also testified that "he would frequently come home to find his roommate openly watching pornography and masturbating."
Part of the prosecution's case had to do with Baker's physical condition, and as the Bay Area Reporter noted during the trial, friends and coworkers testified that Baker had suffered a recent fall, and was even walking funny shortly before the killing.
When the case first made headlines in 2013, following a pre-trial hearing, the Bay Area Reporter characterized the evidence fairly differently: "Apparent blood spots could be seen throughout the apartment, including on the ceiling near Baker's nearly decapitated body. [A video shown to the judge] also showed what looked like blood smears on a windowsill, a doorframe, and a container holding kitchen utensils." Among more than 80 injuries found on Baker's body, there were "very deep lacerations with near decapitation" around his throat, as well as a small knife blade embedded in his skull, and long incisions on his face."
At the time the DNA evidence of Kesmatyar's presence in the room was still being weighed, and his wallet was also found at the scene, "indicating his departure had been 'hasty or unplanned.'"
Also, Kesmatyar's adoptive parents have been present throughout his hearings and trial, but where were they when he was bunking with a man who was almost 50 years older than him? And how long did the two live together before this explosive incident occur?
A longtime friend of Baker's, Amy Filippini, told the BAR back in 2012 that Baker had "lent 'a helping hand' to younger men before... and she had urged him to be careful." Also, she had asked Baker in one of her last conversations with him if he thought Kesmatyar was gay, and he reportedly said, "No, but I wish he was, because he's cute." Also, sadly in retrospect, she added that she hoped Baker wasn't portrayed as "some sort of pervert, because he wasn't."