Man Did Not Threaten to Piss on Neighbor, Jury Finds
Prosecutors said Willie Smith, 42, pushed his way into the room of a 73-year-old neighbor, Gordon Gantz. After allegedly slapping Gantz in the face and demanding money, Smith began eating a Snickers bar he found in Gantz' apartment. He then sprayed him with air freshener and threatened to urinate on him, Gantz told police.
During a nine-day trial, deputy public defender Michelle Tong brought the victim's credibility into question, highlighting that he was a convicted felon who had previously made false bomb threats. Additionally, two other neighbors of Gantz testified that he used racial epithets against black residents of the motel, although Gantz testified that he did not use racist language. (Smith is black and Gantz is white.)
"Proving these serious charges rested on a single witness with a history of lying," Public Defender Jeff Adachi said in a statement. "Fortunately, in this case, the jurors were able to reach the right result after witnesses raised serious questions about Mr. Gantz's truthfulness."
Gantz was acquitted on four felony charges and eight lesser included charges, according to the public defender's office. The jury hung on two misdemeanor counts of elder abuse.