gavel.jpgA woman who was accused of fatally stabbing another woman in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood last year was acquitted of murder charges Monday, according to the public defender’s office.

Maria Burgos, 49, was accused of killing Ernestine Herron, 26, on March 28, 2011, outside a home in the 1000 block of Connecticut Street.

However, a San Francisco Superior Court jury found Burgos not guilty of all charges, according to Deputy Public Defender Danielle Harris, who argued that the killing was a case of self-defense.

“Ms. Burgos told the truth to police and to prosecutors. Jurors were the only ones who listened,” Harris said in a statement. “We are so grateful to them. They are truly the conscience of the community.”

Burgos had moved into the Potrero Terrace housing projects three months prior to the incident and was allegedly robbed by Herron three days prior to the killing.

On the morning of March 28, Burgos sat on a retaining wall to get some fresh air and took a kitchen knife to protect herself, according to the public defender’s office.

Herron soon approached, prompting Burgos to ask for her money back. Herron then allegedly punched Burgos in the face, knocking her back and then striking her several more times, her attorney said.

Burgos then closed her eyes and stabbed Herron in the neck with the knife, then ran to her apartment where she was arrested 15 minutes later.

In the nine-day trial, a medical examiner’s toxicologist testified that Herron had crack cocaine in her system, and jurors were also shown pictures of Burgos’ bruised face after the incident, according to the public defender’s office.

Alex Bastian, spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said prosecutors “had witnesses that indicated the defendant was the initial aggressor and stabbed an unarmed person.”

Bastian said, “Nevertheless, we respect the jury’s decision.”

Burgos was set to be released from jail today after being in custody since her arrest, according to the public defender’s office.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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