One of the prosecutors who left the DA’s office, and made a big stink to the press about doing so, continues to air complaints about a homicide case she prosecuted where Boudin ended up relenting to an insanity plea from the suspect.
In late October, when the Recall Chesa Boudin campaign announced they had enough signatures to get their recall measure on the ballot, they employed a clearly coordinated rollout of their announcement with a critical Heather Knight column in the Chronicle interviewing a prosecutor who’d just quit Boudin’s office. One wondered if that prosecutor, Brooke Jenkins, and the couple others who’ve left the office and spoken out, was assuming Boudin would be recalled, and was maybe angling for a job in the new Mayor Breed-appointed (probably Suzy Loftus) DA administration.
But Jenkins seems more fixated on one particular case, which was her first homicide case, a bizarre Easter morning 2020 murder wherein the victim’s body was so mutilated that the coroner could not even determine the exact cause of death. In that case, 29-year-old Daniel Gudino was discovered at the home naked and covered with blood, after having a violent mental health episode in which he murdered his own mother. Boudin did win a conviction for second-degree murder. But the jury deadlocked on whether Gudino was legally insane, Boudin chose not to fight the insanity plea any further over Jenkins’ objections, and Gudino is now in a mental hospital rather than prison.
“You simply can’t ignore the victims in a case,” Jenkins told the Examiner, in a piece exploring whether Boudin was correct in handling that insanity plea. “This case could have come down with the jury finding him insane and I would have been fine with that.” (The jury deadlocked 7-5 in favor of insanity, and three out of four experts testified that Gudino was seriously mentally impaired.)
The case touches on several issues of some complexity, beyond whether you can consider a person guilty of murder if they are in a delusional state. Gudino reportedly had delusions that his mother had been replaced by a cyborg — a common delusion among unmedicated, schizotypal young men who are living with parents and end up committing parricide (parent murder), experts say. And the Easter morning incident escalated because Gudino became convinced that a towel he used to dry his face had been purposely infected with COVID. Gudino's mother and father had, in fact, chosen not to hospitalize him as his condition worsened last spring due to concerns about COVID in hospital settings.
First responders also reported that Gudino had, in part, recognized the horror he had just committed, and said, as he was being cuffed, "What did I do to my fucking mom? Oh my God."
Jenkins says Gudino’s stepfather opposed taking the insanity plea, though the Examiner speaks to Gudino’s biological father, who remained close to both his ex-wife and son, and was supportive of the insanity plea. “Betty fought for both of our sons for years through these mental health issues,” John Gudino told the Examiner. “She would be in support of him, and for him to get the treatment that is needed.”
Moreover, the public defender in the case took to the (extremely pro-Boudin publication) Davis Vanguard to shred Heather Knight’s depiction of events. “After the jury hung on the question of insanity (with the majority voting for insanity), Boudin stepped in and Jenkins’s supervisor agreed to this result,” public defender Ilona Solomon wrote. “When Knight refers to this prosecutor as progressive, she ignores that Jenkins tried to send a mentally insane person to prison, where he would undoubtedly suffer unspeakable abuse and receive no treatment. Knight also ignores that Jenkins acted against the wishes of the family, and against the findings of medical experts.”
Knight’s article has since been updated with revised numbers of how many prosecutors have left Boudin’s office — probably because Boudin’s office complained — but has still successfully helped form a narrative of Boudin’s office in alleged disarray. For his part, Boudin is trying to form his own narrative with a new prosecution dashboard and supposed transparency.
Because now that the signatures are in and the recall election is on, likely in June 2022, this is more about competing narratives to win an election rather than the reality of actual safety and crime in San Francisco.
Image: @chesaboudin via Twitter