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The judge ordered a man who had been accused of six felonies to be immediately released from custody, after the jury today announced him guilty of only two misdemeanors. The defendant was acquitted of all felony charges.

Matthew Alexander McDuffie, 28, was arrested in September of 2012 after he was accused of badly handling a 23-year-old disabled man in his care. Defendant McDuffie has been held in lieu of $1 million bail for eight months.

The jury heard testimony for more than two weeks, since April 25, and announced verdicts late today, May 14, 2013. The jury deliberated almost two full days before finding McDuffie “not guilty” of all six felonies.

The two guilty misdemeanors concern an instance in which the caregiver put his hand to the face of the patient, he said he bumped the autistic man trying to distract him from hitting himself. (It was not disputed that the autistic man hurt himself, in what experts termed “self-injurious behavior.”) McDuffie testified in his own defense during trial.

Defense attorney Karolyn Kovtun said of the defendant, “He just wants to have a cheeseburger.”

“Personally, I don’t think he’s guilty of anything,” the defense attorney opined, after the verdict was announced.

The prosecutor stated, "It’s disappointing that the jury found him guilty of only two misdemeanors, but they held McDuffie accountable for abusing Jamey."

Attorney Karolyn Kovtun said she expects Matthew McDuffie will be sentenced to time already served.

The mother of the autistic man, Kim Oakley, was a persistent accuser in this case and is expected to speak at the sentencing hearing, scheduled for next Monday.

Honorable Blaine K. Bowman, who heard the trial, will pronounce sentence the morning of May 20, 2013, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse.

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Comments

abs444 May 14, 2013 @ 6:45 p.m.

The San Diego County District Attorney's Office spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to prosecute a kind and patient, but arguably unqualified caregiver, to vindicate the recipient of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to pay for supposedly better qualified caregivers that, for all intents and purposes, do nothing other than protect her severely autistic, adult son from self-abusing himself -- something the "recipient" doesn't want to do herself -- evidenced by the fact that she wants her son banished to a "guest" home on her property (also to be funded by taxpayer dollars).

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Visduh May 14, 2013 @ 8:10 p.m.

Whew, what a sentence! I'm referring to your posting, not the jail term that may or may not be given. And I'm inclined to agree with your analysis of the situation. Too bad his co-defendant in this prosecution wasn't treated the same way. That dude will likely do more time.

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MattF May 15, 2013 @ 10:17 a.m.

I was an alternate juror in this case - which means I sat with the rest of the Jury and heard all testimony and saw all evidence presented. Because I was an alternate I was not involved in deliberations. I have just received a call from the court clerk letting me know of the verdict and that I am now free to discuss the case. I was absolutely shocked when I heard that McDuffie was found not guilty of all six felonies and guilty of only two misdemeanors.

The above story tells little about the offenses, or the victim, or the evidence presented, so I'll summarize very briefly here. This trial was over 2 weeks long, and I'm summarizing in a single paragraph - so it's truly a high level summary. The article doesn't use the defendant's name, so I won't either.

The victim is a 23 year old man so severely autistic he is unable to speak, or feed himself - or even use the bathroom - he wears a diaper. The defendant was accusing of punching, slapping and otherwise abusing the person he was paid to care for. We saw videos of these actions. We saw testimony from an expert in the field of autism, from the victims doctor, from other caregivers, and from the family all detailing and agreeing McDuffie's actions were abusive. The only witnesses presented by the defense were two family members of another caregiver accused of abusing Jamie and the defendant himself --- all very motivated for acquittal rather than justice. Even the defendant himself admitted on the stand to slapping the defendant, to using his hair as a handle to move him around the room and to shove him to the ground.

Watching video the victim being abused over and over was not fun. Watching him pull back from McDuffie in ways I interpreted as cowering to not be hurt was not fun. At one point the prosecutor showed a video of the victim standing up from his bed, then jumping back to it in fear after McDuffie came closer. McDuffie was asked "did you see the way he jumped back on the bed" (or something similar to that) ... the answer from McDuffie was a grin and "yeah, did you see that" - which I interpreted as pride at having dominated the victim into submission. It was at that point that I decided McDuffie was not only incompetent, but sadistic as well.

I have no idea what was discussed in deliberations. I don't know why McDuffie wasn't held more accountable for his actions. The penal system in this country is designed to be entirely fair to defendants, and it should be. This is one case however where I feel justice was not served.

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MattF May 15, 2013 @ 1 p.m.

Where I state above that I won't use the defendants name, I meant the victims name.

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honeybadger May 15, 2013 @ 2:53 p.m.

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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MattF May 15, 2013 @ 5:15 p.m.

I've flagged the above as a suggestion for removal based on it being entirely inaccurate. The San Diego Reader has my direct contact information and I'm more than happy to verify to them my identity via email, telephone, or whatever means they would like to use. I still have my juror's badge if that helps.

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bighammer May 15, 2013 @ 10:18 p.m.

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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