By: Paul Payne – The Press Democrat
A jury has acquitted a Santa Rosa man who kicked another man in the head during a fight and causing brain damage, concluding he acted in self-defense, his lawyer said Thursday.
Robert Upshall, 24, was on trial on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and battery in the 2009 fight with Cory Debari, 26, outside a downtown Santa Rosa gas station.
Prosecutors alleged that after Upshall knocked Debari to the ground with his fists, he kicked him in the head, causing internal bleeding.
But Upshall’s lawyer, Stephen Turer, argued Upshall acted in self-defense to ensure Debari, who he said provoked the fight, would not get up and attack him again.
Jurors agreed. After a week of testimony, they deliberated about seven hours before clearing Upshall Wednesday of all charges.
“If you’re going to start a fight you got to be prepared to be hurt,” Turer said.
The fight happened Nov. 25, 2009, at the Chevron station at the intersection of College and Mendocino avenues.
Upshall and a friend had been drinking in a nightclub and walked to the station to buy microwave hamburgers, Turer said.
As they were leaving the store, an intoxicated Debari and another man apparently mistook the men for being gay and yelled a slur at them, Turer said.
A fight broke out and Upshall knocked Debari to the ground. He was allegedly down for several seconds before Upshall, who was wearing tennis shoes, kicked him,Turer said.
Upshall had previously agreed to plead guilty to charges of assault with a deadly weapon and battery with great bodily injuries enhancements in exchange for a no-prison deal with prosecutors.
His first lawyer told him he would never convince a jury he was innocent because of the seriousness of Bebari’s injury. But a judge wouldn’t accept the plea deal, forcing a trial. Turer took over the case.
“The law is clear,” Turer said. “If you are defending yourself and use appropriate force . . . it doesn’t matter if they other guy gets hurt. It’s self-defense. He had a right to kick the guy to make sure he stayed down.”
Source: The Press DemocratTags: Assault, Cases Won, Deadly Weapon, L. Stephen Turer, Self Defense, The Press Democrat