Victim in San Francisco shooting shocked by suspect's release until new trial

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A man who was shot in the head in San Francisco five years ago is shocked a judge released the man accused of shooting him while he awaits a new trial.

"I still have memory issues, like short term memory," Benjamin Pessah said.

It has been a miraculous recovery for Pessah who was shot in the head Halloween night 2012.

His brain wound was so severe that doctors gave him only a 25 percent chance of living.

He was in a medically induced coma for a month. He still has problems with his cognitive functions, but is otherwise doing well.

The alleged shooter is Hun Saelee, a father of a four year old. Pessah and three friends had left a Halloween party at Fort Mason when they encountered Saelee.

Pessah's friends say that led to an altercation where Saelee grabbed a gun from his car and fired it, emptying the magazine. One of the rounds hit Pessah.

Saelee's attorney says his client was simply trying to protect himself against the group charging at him, hurling racial insults.

"He was acting in self-defense against a hate crime assault," San Francisco Assistant Public Defender Vilaska Nguyen said.

A trial ended last April with the jury acquitting Saelee of most of the attempted murder charges.

But they hung on the attempted murder and assault with a firearm charge related to Pessah.

Then two weeks ago, the judge released Saelee while he awaits a new trial on the deadlocked charges.

"There was brain matter on the pavement as a result of the gunshot wound. We were completely opposed to his release," San Francisco District Attorney Spokesman Alex Bastian said.

Even though he's on a GPS monitoring device and other court ordered conditions, his release shocked and angered Pessah and his friends.

"He spent four and a half years locked away when I spent four and a half years in an institution bettering myself everyday trying to improve myself because of the unfortunate circumstance that happened to me," Pessah said.

"This basically says it's OK to go around and shooting people and you get a slap on the wrist. It's not fair," Ashleigh Keratzedes said.
A new trial date has been set for July.
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