Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Eric Hunt Found Guilty Of False Imprisonment In The Case Of Holocaust Promoter Elie Wiesel In San Francisco
On Monday, July 21st 2008, Eric Hunt's 18-month legal nightmare came to an end when a jury found him guilty of false imprisonment with a hate crime charge, misdemeanor battery, and misdemeanor elder abuse consequential to Hunt's encounter with Holocaust promoter Elie Wiesel at the Argent Hotel in San Francisco on February 1st, 2007. Hunt was found not guilty on attempted kidnapping and stalking. Full stories published by the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Sentinel, the Boston Globe, and a more detailed account with some background on NBC11.com. Discussion on the Vanguard News Network Forum.
The battery and elder abuse charges would have been felonies, except the jury rejected the hate enhancers appended to them, so they reverted to misdemeanors. Hunt had pleaded not guilty to all charges by reason of insanity. At the end, one juror openly accused the prosecution of "charge-stacking", while the foreman simply stated that there was not enough evidence to convict Hunt of kidnapping.
Ironically, it was Elie Wiesel himself who weakened the case for the hate crime enhancers and set the stage for the other acquittals. During cross-examination on the second day of trial (July 8th), Wiesel said Hunt had not threatened him or said anything hateful or anti-Semitic during the confrontation. Asked whether he had suffered any permanent injuries, he said he had not.
Hunt was originally accused of six felonies, including attempted kidnapping, false imprisonment, battery, stalking, elder abuse and hate crimes. To briefly recap the incident, Elie Wiesel was a featured speaker at a peace forum at the Argent Hotel in San Francisco. Eric Hunt approached him in the lobby and asked him for an interview. Wiesel agreed to talk in the lobby, but Hunt insisted the interview be conducted in a hotel room, and got into the elevator with Wiesel. Once on the sixth floor, Hunt dragged Wiesel from the elevator. After Wiesel began yelling, Hunt ran away down the elevator and was in such a hurry he left his car, wallet, and drivers license behind. He then went to New Jersey, where he was admitted involuntarily at the Carrier Clinic in Somerset County after his mother took him to Newton Memorial Hospital. Montgomery Township Police arrested Hunt at the clinic on February 17th, after which he was subsequently extradited to San Francisco.
Thus began a prolonged legal ordeal where Hunt was hospitalized for what was eventually reported as delusional behavior associated with bipolar disorder. He changed his plea several times, and during one hearing in August 2007, he apologized to Wiesel for the attack. For more details on the entire case, click HERE to review all previous posts on this blog. The most recent post will appear first.
The false imprisonment felony count carries a maximum three-year sentence. The misdemeanor battery and elder abuse counts carry six months each in the county jail. Because Hunt has been in custody for 18 months, accumulating good-conduct credits, his attorney hopes Hunt will be freed after sentencing on August 18th, albeit under conditions of probation. This would assume that the judge would choose to make all sentences concurrent.
During the trial, Hunt's attorney, John Runfola had argued that his client was a "lost soul," not a racist or a Holocaust denier. He said Hunt was in a delusional state caused by bipolar disorder when he followed Wiesel across the country, an expedition financed by a $10,000 inheritance from his grandmother. After the verdict, Runfola expressed relief and said his client has been unjustly treated as a hatemonger when he was really mentally ill. "He's recovered. It's over - he's a meek soul," Runfola said outside court. "He's not a Holocaust denier," he said, adding that he would never have defended him under such circumstances.
The prosecution portrayed Hunt as an anti-Semitic stalker bent on getting Wiesel to say the Holocaust was a lie and who boasted about his exploits on the Internet. But even after the trial, the prosecution remained as vindictive and unrepentant as ever. In a statement, District Attorney Kamala Harris said: "Crimes motivated by hate are among the most reprehensible of offenses. ... This defendant has been made to answer for an unwarranted and biased attack on a man who has dedicated his life to peace."
Commentary: Eric Hunt was not only overcharged, but was also over-convicted, although, to their credit, the jury saw through much of the hate crimes BS and discarded much of it. Wiesel himself undermined the case by surprisingly testified that there was no anti-Semitism during the encounter.
However, had the victim not been Elie Wiesel or another officially "protected" person, this would have been a misdemeanor with a 30-60 day sentence wrapped up long ago. The prosecution simply kowtowed to Organized Jewry and Holocaustianity in this case.
No way should this have been a felony.