Attorneys in the sanity trial of a man convicted of attempting to murder two people at a San Francisco bakery in 2007 were left baffled today when the jury unanimously found the man sane, but then two jurors subsequently reversed their decisions.
The San Francisco Superior Court jury announced at about 3:30 p.m. that they had come to a unanimous verdict that Scott Thomas, 29, was legally sane when he stabbed 15-year-old Loren Schaller and a 60-year-old man who came to her aid inside Creighton’s Bakery on May 19, 2007.
But when defense attorney Stephen Rosen asked that the jury be individually polled as to whether their decisions were accurate, two jurors responded, “No.”
The court clerk had questioned seven of the 12 jurors at that point, when Rosen interrupted, telling the judge “There is an issue.”
Judge Suzanne Bolanos immediately ordered the jurors back into the deliberating room, as an amazed audience, including Schaller, her family and other attorneys, looked on.
“Obviously, we’re all puzzled,” prosecutor Scot Clark told Schaller’s family after returning from the judge’s chamber.
“Unbelievable,” Schaller’s mother gasped. “It’s like a nightmare that never ends.”
Clark and Rosen, both veteran attorneys, said they had never seen anything like this.
The same jury found Thomas guilty on March 2 of two counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated mayhem. They have deliberated for seven days so far in the sanity phase of the trial and will continue Tuesday morning.
Clark said he will ask Bolanos to have both sides re-deliver their closing arguments if the jury cannot come to an agreement.
Should Bolanos deem the jury irreversibly hung, a new jury will be impaneled to determine sanity.
Thomas had been released on parole from San Quentin the day before the attacks after serving nearly four months for a parole violation. He had previous convictions for grand theft auto, hit-and-run, petty theft and vandalism. The state Office of the Inspector General later concluded he had been released by mistake.
Schaller testified at the trial that she had been standing in line at the bakery when Thomas, without saying anything, walked up to her with a knife, cut her across the back of the head and then stabbed her in the side of the neck, severing her jugular vein.
A 60-year-old man who came to help her was also stabbed. A doctor who witnessed the attack helped stabilize Schaller until paramedics arrived.
Thomas was arrested nearby.
Schaller has undergone multiple surgeries and has permanent scars.
She still does not have full use of one arm, she testified.
Rosen, while not disputing his client committed the acts, argued that he was legally insane at the time.
He said Thomas told police he was trying to send the people he stabbed “to another dimension.” Rosen argued that Thomas was mentally ill and that the illness robbed him of choice.
Clark maintained that Thomas, though he had “obvious psychological issues,” nevertheless had the intent and deliberation to commit the acts.
Clark said Thomas had been planning to kill someone and came to San Francisco looking for “a victim who was vulnerable.”
If Thomas were to be found legally insane at the time of the crimes, he would be sent to a state mental hospital until his sanity is restored. If found sane, he would face life in prison.