brian higginbotham

Brian Higginbotham outside court this afternoon.
A mis­trial was de­clared to­day in the mur­der trial of Fan­tasy De­cuir and La­m­onte Mims in San Fran­cisco Su­pe­rior Court.

The pair were ac­cused of rob­bing and killing pho­tog­ra­pher and film lo­ca­tion scout Ed French, 71, at Twin Peaks over­look in July 2017.

The jury of five men and seven women re­ported they were dead­locked as to a count of first-de­gree mur­der. The foreper­son, ju­ror #12, told the court that they had taken "at least seven or eight" votes with re­spect to Ms De­cuir's guilt and had be­come "hope­lessly dead­locked".

They also re­ported be­ing dead­locked as to Mr Mims.

The broad day­light, caught-on-cam­era killing of the de­fense­less se­nior shocked res­i­dents for its sense­less­ness and bru­tal­ity.

The pair will face a re­trial.

Speak­ing out­side De­part­ment 28 to­day the vic­tim's part­ner Brian Hig­gin­botham lamented the fail­ure of the jury to reach a ver­dict as to De­cuir and Mims.

"They are both guilty of first de­gree mur­der," he said. "They killed Ed in cold blood and went on al­most to com­mit an­other mur­der less than two weeks later."

"I've been com­ing since Au­gust of 2017, so I've been here go­ing on for 80 times for ar­raign­ments - dif­fer­ent judges, dif­fer­ent dis­trict at­tor­neys, dif­fer­ent de­fense at­tor­neys - so it's just dis­heart­en­ing."

While they did not dis­pute that their client fired the shot that killed Mr French, de­fense at­tor­neys ar­gued that, at the time of the killing, Ms De­cuir was in a "sickle cell cri­sis" and suf­fer­ing from opi­ate painkiller with­drawal.

They added that Ms De­cuir had a low IQ, a "lack of adap­tive func­tion­ing" and suf­fers from stress and anx­i­ety. As a con­se­quence, they said, she did not act "con­sciously" when fir­ing the gun.

She was "un­aware of what is go­ing on," at­tor­ney Mark Iver­son told the jury, "She is mov­ing, but with­out con­scious thought."

Sum­ming-up, pros­e­cu­tor Heather Tre­visan dis­missed claims of lack of con­scious­ness: "mak­ing a plan with some­one else to go to a tar­get-rich en­vi­ron­ment [and] to leave [Mr French] alone to die on the street while you go to fence the cam­era" sug­gested to the con­trary, she said.

On the fourth full day of de­lib­er­a­tion, the jury, hav­ing told the court they were "at an im­passe," re­turned to the court­room to hear brief ad­di­tional ar­gu­ment on the is­sue of con­scious­ness.

"[W]as the sever­ity of the opi­oid with­ se­vere it was block­ing out...the world around her?" pros­e­cu­tor Aaron Lay­cook asked the jury.

"Be­ing in pain and mak­ing a bad de­ci­sion is­n't the same [as be­ing] in so much pain that you are mak­ing no de­ci­sions. No one has said you can be suf­fer­ing from that amount of pain and dri­ving around [and] pulling a gun and putting a bul­let cen­ter mass on tar­get."

For Ms De­cuir, Mark Iver­son re­minded ju­rors that, as he saw it, "in the early months of July, you have an in­ter­play of a se­ri­ous dis­ease and the in­ter­ac­tion with opi­ate with­drawal am­pli­fies the pain."

On the fifth day of de­lib­er­a­tions the jury was reread the tes­ti­mony of an ex­pert wit­ness on the is­sue of opi­oid painkillers.

In court just be­fore she de­clared a mis­trial, Su­pe­rior Court Judge Alexan­dra Robert Gor­don ques­tioned each ju­ror in­di­vid­u­ally to en­sure they all felt that fur­ther de­lib­er­a­tions or as­sis­tance from the court would not be fruit­ful.

One ju­ror spoke of "per­sonal ten­sion" among those de­lib­er­at­ing.

With re­spect to Mr French's death, the only guilty ver­dicts aris­ing from the day's events, that the jury could agree, re­lated to Mims: a sin­gle count of 'sec­ond de­gree rob­bery' and a count of 'con­tempt of court' - be­cause, by be­ing on Twin Peaks, he vi­o­lated a stay-away or­der pre­vi­ously im­posed.

The pair were both found not guilty of 'in­flict­ing in­jury on an el­der' as re­gards Mr French. The read­ing of this ver­dict for Ms De­cuir caused a mem­ber of the French fam­ily to im­me­di­ately leave the court­room.

De­cuir and Mims were found guilty of var­i­ous charges re­lat­ing to the rob­bery of tourists to San Fran­cisco that took place on July 28.

Six days be­fore the killing, La­m­onte Mims, al­ready on felony pro­ba­tion, was re­leased on bail by Judge Sharon Rear­don af­ter be­ing ar­rested for gun pos­ses­sion and pa­role vi­o­la­tions.

In mak­ing her re­lease de­ci­sion, Judge Rear­don had the ben­e­fit of a risk as­sess­ment pre­pared via an al­go­rithm - how­ever staff at the SF Pre­trial Di­ver­sion Pro­ject said that they in­putted in­cor­rect data, re­sult­ing in a 're­lease' rec­om­men­da­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to its web­site the Pre­trial Di­ver­sion Pro­ject was founded "un­der the premise that the goals of com­mu­nity safety and restora­tion could be achieved by fo­cus­ing on in­di­vid­ual de­vel­op­ment, ed­u­ca­tion and pub­lic ser­vice."

Mr Hig­gin­botham paid trib­ute to his part­ner at the con­clu­sion of the hear­ing.

"Ed was amaz­ing. He was born and raised here in San Fran­cisco. He was 'Mr San Fran­cisco,' the nicest per­son. He loved the city he took pic­tures for a liv­ing that showed how beau­ti­ful San Fran­cisco is, and filmed com­mer­cials, and to be up there on that Sun­day morn­ing, for this to hap­pen and for there to be no con­se­quences so far - I could al­most start cry­ing here. We'll get jus­tice."