Attorney: San Francisco murder suspect 'devastated' over elderly victim's death

Bay City News
Thursday, June 14, 2018
This undated image shows a San Francisco Police Department logo on a cop car.
This undated image shows a San Francisco Police Department logo on a cop car.

SAN FRANCISCO -- A man charged with first degree murder for allegedly knocking an elderly man down so hard last week in San Francisco that the man died days later is devastated over the death, his attorney said Thursday.

According to police, Garret Miller, 31, robbed a store around 4:10 p.m. on June 7 near the corner of Columbus Avenue and Lombard Street.

As Miller fled the store, he allegedly knocked 85-year-old Sami Batshoun to the ground. Batshoun died on Sunday from his injuries, police said.

Miller's arraignment was scheduled for this morning, but it was put off until July 5. Miller has not yet entered a plea.

He's been charged with murder, robbery, battery, assault and elder abuse.

Miller was initially hospitalized after the alleged robbery and assault on a psychiatric hold.

On Thursday, his attorney, Deputy Public Defender Brian Pearlman said, "He's completely devastated and distraught that this man lost his life," adding that the act was unintentional.

"The facts reported by police are not accurate," Pearlman said.

According to Pearlman, Miller suffers from schizophrenia and had gone off his medication. In an attempt to self-medicate, Miller went to the store and allegedly tried to take a bottle of wine.

As Miller was running out of the store with the wine bottle in hand, Batshoun put out his cane to try and stop Miller. Miller then unintentionally hit Batshoun, causing Batshoun to lose his balance and fall to the ground, Pearlman said.

Miller immediately dropped the bottle of wine and stopped to check on Batshoun. Miller stayed at the scene and waited for police to arrive, he said.

Batshoun was hospitalized and eventually died.

"It's a tragedy but it was not a murder case," Pearlman said. "The way it's being charged, that he willfully and with malice aforethought killed someone... To charge him with that is complete overcharging by the DA's office."

Pearlman said, "Normally with this you would see manslaughter."

The District Attorney's Office was not immediately available for comment.

Miller remains in custody and is being held without bail.