Man convicted of misdemeanor for biting SF cop

December 17, 2009 6:56:01 PM PST
A man who's already been convicted half a dozen times for biting police officers has been on trial for doing it again. Late Thursday afternoon the trial ended with a surprising verdict.

August 18, Miguel McNorton was arrested by San Francisco police in the Tenderloin District. A pedestrian saw the 49-year-old tear off the side view mirrors of a motorcycle.

"Police respond, the defendant resists, he's a large gentleman and he refuses to cooperate and he eventually ends up biting one of the police officers," San Francisco assistant district attorney Victor Huang said.

The bite broke the skin on Officer Michael Wolf's wrist, requiring medical treatment.

McNorton has been arrested 16 times in the past 20 years in San Francisco for battery on an officer. He has been convicted six times for biting cops.

An investigative source tells ABC7 McNorton's state criminal record is so long, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation could not transmit it by fax.

"My client has been arrested for this kind of thing in the past, it's clear that he has various issues that need to be addressed," McNorton's public defender Seth Meisels said.

But Judge Kevin McCarthy refused to let the prosecution bring up McNorton's criminal past, saying it was irrelevant to this particular case.

The jury acquitted McNorton of the more serious felony battery charge, choosing instead to convict him on lesser misdemeanor charges.

ABC7 told juror Steve Duff afterwards how many times he had attacked police.

"The way the evidence was presented to us and how we had to rule, we ruled the way we did and everyone seemed to be comfortable with that so that's what we did," Duff said.

Another notable thing about the case was that Judge Bruce Chan was one of the jurors, even though he presided over McNorton's fifth cop biting battery case in April.

Chan reduced the felony charge to a misdemeanor.

During jury selection, Chan said he would be impartial but never mentioned his previous case.

McCarthy allowed Chan to sit as a juror over the prosecutor's objections, telling the attorneys, "I've concluded Judge Chan simply forgot; I believe he's capable of making a fair decision."

"He was a juror like the rest of us," Duff said.

Duff was the only juror who would talk to ABC7 after the case. Chan left through a door which judges use in the inner courtroom so ABC7 never saw him leave. McCarthy could not comment because the case is still pending.

Sentencing is on January 15.


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