Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo was acquitted Monday of attempting to peek into a neighbor's home, winning a high-stakes legal gamble in which he laid bare his alcoholism and oversized ego to avoid a conviction and try to salvage his political career.
The verdict caps more than nine months of legal wrangling and intrigue surrounding the 5th District supervisor, who was arrested outside the woman's Santa Rosa apartment before dawn on July 13, dressed in just his socks and underwear.
Jurors deadlocked on a more serious charge of peeking before reaching the unanimous decision on the lesser count of attempted peeking. His lawyer, Chris Andrian, said it amounts to an acquittal on both charges.
"It's all done," a jubilant Andrian said outside the courtroom, moments after the verdict was read. "It's over."
Carrillo, 33, who has rejected calls to resign, showed no emotion as he stood in court, his hands clasped in front of him. Outside court he told a gathering of reporters he felt "sorrow" for the pain he caused the woman, his own family and political supporters. But he vowed to continue to focus on his work and what he called a "personal recovery."
"I hope to continue to be an effective public servant," said Carrillo, who was re-elected to a second term in 2012.
He declined to say whether he planned to address the situation at the next Board of Supervisors meeting, on May 6.
Prosecutor Cody Hunt, who tried the case for the state attorney general to avoid a conflict with Sonoma County prosecutors, left the door open for a possible retrial on the main count of peeking. There is case law that would support a second trial, he said.
Judge Gary Medvigy never dismissed the charge or declared a mistrial.
"It is not an implied acquittal," Hunt said. "The question is whether we can go back and retry count one."
But Andrian was adamant that isn't a possibility. He said a person can't be convicted of a greater crime after they've been acquitted of a lesser crime.
"If you didn't attempt to rob a bank how can you be guilty of robbing it?" Andrian asked.
A lawyer for the woman, identified in court only as Jane Doe, said she was hoping for a conviction but was realistic about the possibility of another outcome.
"Our position has always been, guilty or not guilty, it doesn't change what happened that night," attorney Rosanne Darling said.
Several jurors declined to comment as they left the courthouse, saying they were tired.
The verdict came after three days of testimony in which the woman and Carrillo took the witness stand.
The woman told jurors she was asleep in her Brockhurst Drive apartment about 3:30 a.m. when she was awakened by the sound of the screen tearing on her bedroom window and the movement of her window blinds.
She said she bolted into her living room, where two female houseguests were spending the night, and looked out another window to see a half-dressed man standing near her front door.
The women called police and armed themselves with kitchen knives. Police found Carrillo nearby. He was arrested when he could not explain what he was doing there.
Santa Rosa police repeatedly declined to release copies of the woman's 911 calls while the trial was pending. Interim Police Chief Hank Schreeder said Monday he is working with the city attorney to determine whether the tapes should be released, and if so, what information should be redacted to protect the caller. He hopes to say today whether the department will release the tapes.
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