A 41-year-old San Francisco man was acquitted of robbery and other felonies after telling a jury he entered a Mission District home only because a methamphetamine-fueled psychosis led him to believe he needed to board a spaceship to flee the imminent destruction of the earth, the public defender’s office said Wednesday.
Santino Aviles was acquitted Monday of robbery, attempted robbery, assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and battery with serious bodily injury, his attorneys said. He was convicted of misdemeanor battery and assault, while the jury couldn’t agree on a burglary charge.
In May 2014, defense attorneys said, Aviles ran to a Mission District building while under a delusion that it looked like a spaceship docking station and that he was being chased. “Aviles was suffering from hallucinations and false perceptions associated with methamphetamine psychosis,” attorneys said.
A resident in the building allowed him inside, but later got suspicious and told him to leave after he tried to get to the building’s roof, the public defender’s office said. The office said Aviles, still fearing he was being chased, climbed on a fire escape and entered an apartment with an open window, taking off his shoes and shirt and passing out on a couch inside.
At his trial, Aviles testified that when he woke up, he threw an inflatable exercise ball onto the fire escape in hopes of floating through the galaxy with it. He also loaded a backpack in the apartment with a passport and earthquake kit, attorneys said.
The resident of the apartment and his girlfriend woke up, found Aviles, started punching and hitting him, and called 911, defense attorneys said. “The arresting officer testified that Aviles appeared delusional, paranoid and hallucinating while in handcuffs,” the attorneys said.
“Mr. Aviles did not enter the building to rob or hurt anyone,” Deputy Public Defender Jacque Wilson said. “This was not the act of a violent criminal but a frightened man in the midst of a mental health crisis.”