Man Wrongfully Accused In Beating Acquitted After Four Year Legal Saga

Posted by: on July 14, 2011


San Francisco A man mistakenly accused of a brutal New Year’s Day beating was exonerated by a jury, ending  his four-year battle for justice, San Francisco Defense Attorney Jonah Chew announced today.

Thomas Connelly, 30, of Sacramento, was found not guilty of assault likely to cause great bodily injury and battery with great bodily injury. If convicted of both felony counts, he faced seven years in state prison.  The jury deliberated less than two hours before reaching its verdict Monday, Chew said.

“This verdict is the result of four years of investigation. For the first time since 2007, Mr. Connelly is free from his nightmare caused by mistaken identity,” Chew said.

Connelly was arrested at 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2007 after celebrating New Year’s Eve at an Embarcadero Center restaurant. A fellow reveler had identified Connelly as the man who had “sucker-punched” him in the face several times outside the venue, breaking his nose. The complaining witness, now 38, was seriously injured and required several reconstructive surgeries.

Charges against Connelly were dropped two days later after police could not contact the complaining witness. The case was re-filed in the spring of 2007 after the complaining witness agreed to meet with police. Connelly was arrested nearly eight months later on a warrant issued in the case.

In 2008, Chew located several people who witnessed another man – an acquaintance of Connelly’s who was present on New Year’s Eve – subsequently confess to the punching.

Then, in 2010, Chew subpoenaed the suspected culprit’s medical records.  The man had been treated for a broken hand at a hospital in Roseville hours after the attack.

Despite these critical developments, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office continued its prosecution of Connelly.

During the two week trial, jurors examined the new evidence and heard conflicting testimony by prosecution witnesses regarding the suspect’s description.

“Jury members were able to come to a decision very quickly, because the evidence clearly showed Mr. Connelly was not the person who attacked the complaining witness,” Chew said.

The suspected culprit, the son of an attorney, has gone into hiding and avoided 32 subpoena attempts, Chew said. He is the subject of ongoing civil lawsuits filed by the attack victim as well as Connelly.



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