BART's Naked Acrobat: Yeiner Perez Garizabalo to Stand Trial (Updated)
Update, 4:20 p.m.: Garizabalo's attorney responds; see fourth paragraph.
BART's now-infamous naked acrobat, a 24 year-old circus escapee named Yeiner Garizabalo, will get his day in court. His videotaped May 10 rampage at 16th Street BART station -- a formidable combination of back flips, hand stands, ape sounds, and assaults -- garnered thousands of hits on YouTube, rendering Garizabalo an instant celebrity.
It also cost him a job at the non-profit circus troupe Clowns Not Bombs and threatened his immigration status.
Now the naked acrobat faces deportation to his Colombian homeland along with two felonies and five misdemeanor charges. San Francisco Judge Andrew Y.S. Cheng ordered him to stand trial Monday on counts of false imprisonment, battery on a public transit system, and sexual battery -- Garizabalo kicked a female passenger and molested a male maintenance worker during the escapade. He will be formally arraigned on August 19.
The jury is still out on Garizabalo's character -- some consider him a whirling dervish of speed, elegance, and perfect back flip techniques, while others regard him with terror -- but the acrobat's attorney, Paul Myslin, has pushed for an insanity defense. Myslin deems the case "a sad example of a mental health breakdown being charged as felony conduct," as he wrote in an e-mail to SF Weekly. He and fellow defender Andres Orphanopoulos have also asked Cheng to reduce Garizabalo's felonies to misdemeanors, though so far the judge hasn't capitulated.
Garizabalo eluded authorities until after YouTube videos of his escapade went massively viral, leading to a June arrest. Initially he was held at California Pacific Medical Center for a psychiatric evaluation, and then promptly shunted to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
At present his fate is tenuous, but his splits over BART turnstiles will be forever immortalized.