A San Francisco man was convicted of first-degree murder Tuesday for fatally stabbing another man last June in the Bayview District.
Silas Byers, 44, was jailed four days after the June 22, 2009, slaying of 49-year-old Douglas Johnson.
Johnson, of San Francisco, was in the passenger seat of a parked car in the 1600 block of La Salle Avenue at about 12:50 a.m. when another man approached the car and stabbed him in the chest, according to police. The suspect then fled.
According to prosecutor Asit Panwala, two others in the car, a woman and a man, testified at trial.
“Both witnesses said they saw the defendant hand the victim a bag of weed prior to the stabbing, but it’s not clear why he stabbed him,” Panwala said. Byers’ thumbprint was later found on the bag.
The witnesses admitted they had been using several different drugs and alcohol that night, and neither witnessed the actual stabbing.
The woman said she heard a thud and saw Johnson bleeding, according to Panwala.
The man–who said he had been using heroin, cocaine, marijuana and drinking gin that night, and was nodding off at the time of the stabbing — testified that he woke up and saw Johnson bleeding profusely with a knife still stuck in his chest. He said he then saw Byers running up the street.
Both witnesses identified Byers from a photo lineup later that morning.
The man told jurors that Byers and Johnson knew each other from the neighborhood. He labeled Byers “a cowardly motherfucker.”
The defense argued that the testimony of both witnesses was unreliable because they had been high on drugs and hadn’t seen the stabbing.
Byers claimed he had not been at the murder scene at all that night, but was at the home of a significant other. That witness later testified that Byers had indeed left for a time that night.
According to Panwala, both witnesses said Byers had been to the car multiple times that evening.
Byers, who has a prior strike conviction from 1988 for second-degree robbery, faces 51 years to life at his sentencing July 22.