A jury found an Atascadero man guilty of assault for the July stabbing of a downtown San Luis Obispo transient, but failed to agree on a verdict for attempted murder.
The jury found Harley Paul Finney, 28, guilty of assault with a deadly weapon, a felony, but deadlocked 10-2 in favor of guilt on a felony count of attempted murder after two days of deliberations.
Because of the deadlock, prosecutors may choose to retry Finney on the attempted murder charge, but Deputy District Attorney Dave Pomeroy told New Times that decision has not yet been made.
Prosecutors alleged Finney tried to kill Chad Allen Robinson, 19, of Texas, as payback after a fight between Finney and another transient in Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo on the afternoon of July 20.
According to investigators, Robinson overpowered Finney with a choke hold, causing him to pass out. Later that evening, Robinson was attacked as he walked alone alongside the creek behind the businesses in the 600 block of Higuera Street. He suffered 12 stab wounds, a punctured lung, and a pierced diaphragm.
Robinson initially told investigators he didn’t know who stabbed him, but he pointed out Finney in a photo lineup days later and confirmed the same during a September preliminary hearing. A week before trial, he showed up at the office of Ray Allen, Finney’s attorney, and recanted his story.
On the first day of the trial, Robinson was combative with prosecutors, repeatedly stating he didn’t know who stabbed him and that he “made a mistake.” Robinson also admitted to being under the influence of drugs on the night of the attack and going through withdrawal when he fingered Finney in the lineup. Pomeroy had to treat Robinson as a hostile witness, saying he was being “intentionally deceptive.”
Pomeroy argued that Robinson was only following the “street kids’ code,” which he said Robinson explained to him as simply “don’t snitch.”
Finney’s defense attorney argued Robinson felt as though he had “won the lottery” and rode high at the District Attorney’s office’s expense, being treated to a hotel room and bus tickets out of town following his release from the hospital. Allen also noted a lack of forensic evidence linking Finney to the assault.
But jurors noted other evidence, including computer records, which indicated Finney was browsing crime blotters following the attack, as well as an alibi provided by Finney’s former girlfriend that was later disproved.
On Nov. 9, Superior Court Judge John Trice will consider Finney’s prior convictions to determine the potential terms of his sentencing. He will be sentenced at a later date.