Crime

Atascadero man convicted of assault in July stabbing in downtown SLO

Harley Paul Finney, 27, of Atascadero was arrested Friday, July 23, 2010, on suspicion of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Original story »
Plea: Not guilty to attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. What's next: Remanded in SLO County jail with no bail.
Harley Paul Finney, 27, of Atascadero was arrested Friday, July 23, 2010, on suspicion of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Original story » Plea: Not guilty to attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. What's next: Remanded in SLO County jail with no bail.

A jury convicted a 28-year-old Atascadero man Monday of assault with a deadly weapon in the stabbing of a 19-year-old transient in San Luis Obispo in July.

But the jury deadlocked with a 10-2 vote in favor of guilt on the charge of attempted murder against Harley Paul Finney.

The prosecution now will have the option to retry the attempted murder allegation, but no decision was announced in court Monday.

The verdict was rendered shortly before 3 p.m. after more than two days of deliberations.

“It has been a while since I’ve had a case in which a jury has worked so hard and long,” Superior Court Judge John Trice told the jurors. “I commend you.”

The alleged victim, Chad Robinson, changed his account of the incident multiple times leading up to the trial. And lawyers were eagerly anticipating what he’d say on the stand.

Finney was accused of stabbing Robinson at least 12 times the night of July 20 on a path behind businesses on Higuera Street. The stabbing came after an alleged fight involving multiple people near Mission San Luis Obispo in which Robinson put a chokehold on Finney.

After previously telling police at the hospital and testifying in a preliminary hearing that Finney stabbed him multiple times in the arms and chest, Robinson testified during the trial that he didn’t know who stabbed him, saying it was dark when the incident occurred.

Robinson also repeated the statement that he didn’t know who it was to an investigator in defense attorney Raymond Allen’s office shortly before trial, in which testimony began Oct. 22.

But jurors said a taped recording of a police interview conducted in the hospital with Robinson, as well as Robinson’s statements in the preliminary hearing identifying Finney, were key factors in their decision to convict on the assault charge.

Jurors weren’t all convinced the crime constituted attempted murder, saying they considered Finney’s intentions, how much clothing Robinson was wearing to protect himself, and what type of knife was used.

Trice dismissed a juror on Friday for his refusal to consider evidence during deliberations.

That juror was adamant that Finney was not guilty, according to the others, and that he wasn’t open to discussion about the evidence.

That man was replaced with an alternate juror who also sat through the entire case, and then deliberations started over Friday.

After the verdict was read, several jurors gathered with both lawyers outside the courtroom and asked numerous questions of the attorneys and explained their views of the case.

Some said that Finney’s former girlfriend, who attempted to provide an alibi by saying she was with Finney at an Arroyo Grande pizzeria at the time of the stabbing, influenced their decision.

Police discovered that the ex-girlfriend had logged into work in a nursing facility in Salinas that night, and it was implausible that she and Finney were in Arroyo Grande at the time she claimed.

Some jurors questioned whether wounds to Robinson’s chest and arms were intended to be lethal.

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