A former letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service was sentenced today to four years in state prison for ramming his former supervisor with a truck near his Albany home seven months after the supervisor fired him.
Tian Yu Lu, a 64-year-old San Francisco man, was charged with premeditated attempted murder for his attack on Alfredo Bustamante, now 55, in the 900 block of Pierce Street shortly after 6 a.m. on May 1, 2010.
However, jurors convicted him of the lesser crime of felony assault.
Bustamante, who had fired Lu for poor performance in October 2009, was attacked as he was walking to his car to drive to work.
Police said Lu and Bustamante both worked at a post office branch in San Francisco and that Lu had worked for the Postal Service for 15 years before he was fired.
Lu testified during his trial that he only wanted to ruin Bustamante’s car and had no intention of physically harming Bustamante.
But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon said today that he thinks Lu’s testimony was “cockamamie” and said “I didn’t buy a word of it” because Lu had gone to extraordinary lengths to plan his attack on Bustamante.
Reardon said Lu did extensive research to find Bustamante’s home, bought a used truck to use in the attack and put on an industrial-strength bumper guard to protect the truck in a collision.
Lu also put the truck under the name of a disabled and homeless man who lived in one of his rental properties, the judge said.
Reardon said the impact of the collision was so severe that “I think it is absolutely remarkable that Mr. Bustamante is alive.”
Bustamante suffered a broken arm and cuts and bruises but was released from the hospital the same day as the incident.
At today’s hearing Bustamante said, “I’m disappointed that Mr. Lu was found not guilty of attempted murder because there was much evidence to show that he was guilty.”
He said, “I’m lucky to be alive” and said Lu shouldn’t be allowed to be placed on probation “just because he missed killing me.”
But Lu’s lawyer, Eric Safire, said Lu “is a classic candidate for probation” because he’s a hard worker who held two jobs and has no prior criminal record.
Safire said Lu attacked Bustamante because “he was frustrated at losing his job and took action that was inappropriate.”
However, Reardon said the fact that Lu lost his job was no excuse for attacking his supervisor.
“People get fired all the time and they don’t do what Mr. Lu did,” Reardon said.
Lu could have faced life in prison if he had been convicted of premeditated attempted murder.
Reardon seemed surprised that the jury only found Lu guilty of felony assault, saying, “The jury is entitled to their view and I’m entitled to mine.”
The four-year term he imposed on Lu was the maximum possible for his assault conviction.
Lu had been on home detention for the past two years but he was taken into custody after his hearing today.
Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News