A state appeals court today upheld a San Francisco man’s conviction and sentence of 25 years to life in prison for the murder of a 29-year-old man outside a North Beach nightclub four years ago.
Charles Heard, 27, was convicted in San Francisco Superior Court in 2010 of the first-degree murder and attempted robbery of Richard Barrett outside the Fuse Bar early in the morning of Nov. 25, 2008.
He was sentenced in 2011 to the term of 25 years to life. The conviction and sentence were unanimously upheld by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal in San Francisco.
Barrett was wearing a necklace with a jewel-encrusted pendant depicting the Flintstones cartoon child character “Bamm-Bamm” when he was shot.
Two witnesses said they saw Heard and another man reaching or clawing at Barrett’s chest and saw Barrett try to run away. Barrett was shot in the back with two bullets.
As Barrett lay dying on the floor of the Fuse bar, a friend who tried to comfort him saw him grasping the pendant in his hand. The friend collected the pendant and later returned it to Barrett’s family, according to the appellate ruling.
Prosecutors contended Heard was the shooter, but the jurors rejected an allegation that he personally and intentionally used a firearm, indicating that at least some of the jurors did not believe that he fired the fatal shot.
The jurors were instructed, however, that they could convict him of first-degree murder under the felony murder doctrine, in which a person who commits a felony such as attempted robbery can be convicted of murder if the act results in a death.
In his appeal, Heard argued that there was no basis for the felony murder instruction because there was insufficient evidence that he attempted to steal anything from Heard.
But the appeals court said there was “substantial circumstantial evidence that Heard and another assailant intended to rob Barrett.”
The court said the evidence included an FBI wiretap from four months earlier in which Heard spoke of robbing people of jewelry, the testimony of the two witnesses who saw the attackers grabbing at Barrett’s chest, and the testimony of another man who alleged Heard stole a $22,000 pendant necklace from him at gunpoint two weeks later.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News