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Stabbing victim reneges on ID

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OFF THE HOOK? :  The stabbing victim in a July downtown San Luis Obispo assault testified he made a mistake when identifying Harley Finney (pictured) as his attacker. - PHOTO COURTESY SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
  • PHOTO COURTESY SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
  • OFF THE HOOK? : The stabbing victim in a July downtown San Luis Obispo assault testified he made a mistake when identifying Harley Finney (pictured) as his attacker.
The District Attorney Office’s key witness in a San Luis Obispo attempted murder trial upset the case on the first day of testimony. After riding high at the office’s expense, he recanted his story and had to be treated as a hostile witness.

Chad Allen Robinson, 19, a transient originally from Texas, testified before a jury that he “made a mistake” when he fingered Harley Paul Finney, 28, of Atascadero, as his attacker.

Finney is charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon for the July 20 attack that put Robinson in the hospital with 11 stab wounds, a punctured lung, and a pierced diaphragm. Finney pleaded not guilty to the charges in September.

Prosecutors allege Finney stabbed Robinson near the creek in downtown SLO after a fight involving Finney and another transient male in Mission Plaza earlier that day. The fight allegedly ended when Robinson came to his friend’s aid and put Finney in a chokehold, causing him to momentarily pass out. Pomeroy said Finney stabbed Robinson as payback for “sleeping him.”

Robinson has changed his account multiple times since being stabbed, at first saying he didn’t know who stabbed him, later identifying Finney in a photo line-up while still in the hospital, and confirming that statement in a September preliminary hearing. But on Oct. 19, he went to Finney’s attorney’s office to recant his story.

The lengths to which the D.A.’s office went to protect Robinson may also help Finney’s defense. Robinson testified he felt as though he had “won the lottery” when investigators paid to put him up in a hotel room for several nights following his release from the hospital.

Robinson was also treated to bus tickets for him and a female friend to stay with relatives in Texas, as well as approximately $100 for meals. He also testified that he and friends “partied” in the hotel room the office had provided.

Prosecutor Dave Pomeroy explained to the jury Robinson told investigators he feared for his life.

In his opening statements on Oct. 21, Pomeroy described Robinson to the jury as “one of the skinnier people you will ever see” and “harmless.” Robinson later testified that he has probably “choked out” 25 to 30 people and admitted to using crack cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and “psych meds” in the time leading up to the assault.

Several times during his testimony, Robinson was combative with Pomeroy, stating repeatedly he didn’t remember specifics of the stabbing because he was high. Pomeroy made a request to Superior Court Judge John Trice to treat Robinson as a hostile witness, arguing he was being “intentionally deceptive” and contradicting earlier testimony.

In his opening statements, defense attorney Raymond Allen called the case “muddy,” noting a lack of reliable eyewitnesses and forensic evidence linking Finney to the crime.

Closing arguments were made Oct. 27, and a verdict is expected Oct. 28.

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