MAN DEFENDING HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIM FROM DRUG DEALING FEMALE PIMPS ACQUITTED OF ATTEMPTED HOMICIDE
San Francisco, California—June 10, 2015—After several days of deliberations, a jury of four women and eight men found fifty-one year-old Harry Smith of San Francisco not guilty of attempted murder and attempted voluntary manslaughter. Smith was convicted of a lessor charge of assault. The case stemmed from a March 12, 2012 incident outside the Tenderloin District’s Auburn Hotel. While Assistant District Attorney Lili Nguyen argued Smith was angry at witness and admitted pornography actress Merissa Arroyo for intervening during an uncharged altercation between Smith and a local drug dealer, Smith and his attorney, Qiana Washington, told the jury and police he was defending a human trafficking victim. Arroyo suffered a laceration to the neck but was able to stand and walk after her encounter with Smith. Video footage showed Smith having a discussion with the drug dealer immediately before the dealer gestured toward Arroyo. Smith then crept up behind Arroyo, opened a knife, grabbed her and forced her to the ground. Only after she was standing and bystanders pointed out the blood coming from her neck did Arroyo appear to realize she was injured. Smith is seen in the video glancing at her as she stands up and then he casually walks away. A witness testified for the defense that Smith did not appear to know Arroyo was injured before he left the scene. Attempts to locate the human trafficking victim known as “Amber” were unsuccessful, the jury learned. Smith’s tearful testimony related how he knew Arroyo and the drug dealer from the mean streets of the Tenderloin District and they had a reputation of preying on vulnerable drug users by forcing them into prostitution in order to pay drug debts. Smith was particularly concerned about the girl because she was underage and did not appear to belong in the neighborhood. He first paid her debt but later learned that the duo had taken his money and sold the girl into prostitution nonetheless. The jury determined that Smith did not intend to kill Arroyo but convicted him of assault because he used more force than necessary to protect the human trafficking victim. Washington explained, “Citizens are allowed to defend others in danger of imminent harm but it is up to the jury to determine whether the amount of force is proportionate to the harm. I don’t think the public fully understands the gravity of the harm in human trafficking situations and they need education about the dirty underbelly of these types of cases.” Smith faced a life sentence had he been convicted of attempted murder.