A 36-year-old man who was accused of murder in the 2014 death of an 18-year-old man in the front lobby of the Henry Hotel on Sixth Street was acquitted of the murder charge this week after a jury deliberated for six days. As the Public Defender's Office tells us in a release, Darius York was "also found not guilty of two counts of assault with a semi-automatic firearm, and two counts of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury." He was convicted, however, of a lesser charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and as the Examiner reports, he could face three more years in custody.

York's co-defendant and childhood friends, 35-year-old Joseph Young, was found guilty of misdemeanor assault in the case, and will be released on time served.

The fatal shooting, which Deputy Public Defender Matthew Sotorosen admitted was committed by York with a semi-automatic pistol on July 22, 2014, happened in self-defense and in defense of others, Sotorosen argued.

The incident began when 18-year-old Daniel Beltran and a 25-year-old friend entered the Henry Hotel at 5:15 a.m. seeking cocaine. According to the Public Defender's Office, they were met with a 57-year-old front desk clerk, a longtime friend of York's since York lived at the hotel, who told them they needed to pay a $10 entry fee and show ID — something they did to dissuade drug dealing at night — if they wanted to find whoever they were looking for. Beltran then claimed gang membership and threatened to kill the clerk, and this was when York came down the stairs with Young and the clerk asked for their help.

As the Chronicle reports, surveillance video captured the incident, in which the clerk instructed York to get a gun, and he ran upstairs to Young's room to retrieve one. He returned, an altercation ensued, and York fired the gun once, hitting Beltran in the chest.

In a statement, Public Defender Jeff Adachi said, "Darius York was thrown into a life-or-death situation where he was asked to protect a vulnerable friend. He has been in jail ever since. Luckily, he had a public defender who was determined to fight for him and a jury who carefully considered all the evidence."

Sotorosen echoed that, saying that his client cried tears of joy on hearing the verdict, and telling the Chronicle, "You always have to believe in yourself. I believe in my client and I believe in the jury system. We’re very confident the jury system worked."

Previously: Wave Of Homicides Continues With Early-Morning SoMa Shooting