In our cover story this week, we mention a California District Attorney, Jerry Benito, who declined to press charges in a one-punch homicide and lost his re-election in the ensuing controversy over his decision last fall.
The victim in that case, Adam Martinez, was flirting with a woman at a dance club when her boyfriend, Lennart Schauman, walked over and sucker-punched him. Martinez hit his head on the concrete floor and died a week later.
A surveillance camera captured the attack on video, which Martinez' family used to rally voters against Benito in his campaign for re-election. Check out the footage after the jump, as well as Benito's explanation for why he didn't press charges.[jump]
The relevant footage begins around the 45-second mark on this video. You can see the entire situation between Schauman, Martinez, and the girlfriend unfold.
Jerry Benito explained his decision to City Pages, telling us he wanted to press charges but didn't believe a jury would convict Schauman, who claims to have been defending his girlfriend from an unwanted assault.
"Somebody died at the hands of another person and there should be consequences," Benito said in a telephone interview. But Benito didn't think it was right to "drag someone through the criminal justice system when I knew I couldn't get a conviction."
Benito's successor as Shasta County District Attorney, Steve Carlton, has filed an indictment against Schauman, who will face involuntary manslaughter charges this fall. Benito thinks the case is doomed to fail.
"I don't regret standing up for the law," Benito says. "I really believe I will be vindicated when this person is acquitted."
Let us know what you would do if you were the district attorney handling this case.