Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Legal Defense Fund for Austin

A wepay account has now been set up to accept contributions towards Austin's legal defense.  For those wishing to donate to this fund, you can do so at:



Thank you.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Remember "Justice for All" in Sarna's case by Jim Griffin

Jim Griffin of San Luis Obispo has written a letter to the editor to the New Times regarding Austin's case.
By now people should be familiar with the case of Austin Sarna from reading the fine New Times articles by Matt Fountain (most recently “SLO stabbing defendant to fight charges,” Jan. 31).
Sarna came to the assistance of a young man being attacked by a gang of admittedly drunken local hooligans near Mission Plaza last January. According to Sarna, he brandished a knife after being threatened himself by the thugs, and then used the knife after being attacked, kicked, and beaten by several of them. None of the attackers—one a local athlete from a prominent family and others of them being also well known in the community (some with prior offenses)—has been charged by the local DA with anything. Only Sarna, a poor young man with now a fiancĂ© who recently gave birth to their child, has been charged, and with attempted murder plus two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, no less.
Sarna admittedly was in possession of a knife. But the circumstances of this case in SLO are clearly those of his being a Good Samaritan and then defending himself against a violent, gang-like attack. The charges against him are ridiculously harsh and unfounded. The DA’s office should drop all felony charges against Sarna and arrive at a reasonable resolution to the case. The DA should also remember quaint things that still have importance to some of us: “equal protection under the law” and “liberty and justice for all,” regardless of social class and economic circumstances
Thank you Mr. Griffin

(originally posted at http://www.newtimesslo.com/letters-to-the-editor/9071/remember-justice-for-all-in-sarnas-case/)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Comments from one of the men who attacked Austin

Trevor Tice, the drunk 27 year old who attacked Austin for trying to stop Tice and his friends from beating a stranger, has recently spoken to the New Times (Uncertain future, January 24) about Austin's case.

Though he doesn't remember anything about that night, and despite witnesses saying they saw him attack Austin, pin him down, and punch him repeatedly in the face and head, Tice was bold enough to tell a New Times reporter that he "hope[s] justice is served."

We couldn't agree more.  One wonders if he comprehends that justice would mean he and his friends (who attacked the driver of the vehicle and Austin) being arrested and charged at the very least with menacing, assault and battery, and assault with a deadly weapon.

Tice was also quoted as saying it was fine with him if the case goes to trial and that, "[Jurors] can see the kind of person I am and the kind of person [Sarna] is.”  As someone who has been arrested multiple times for being drunk in public and who, again, on the night of the incident aided and participated in the assault of at least two innocent people, one might be a little more caution about what they wish for.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Austin's case is going to trial...

We look forward to hearing testimony on the stand from 

Sean Kennedy, the drunk man who initiated the attacks by kicking the car and assaulting the driver.

Adam Dale, the drunk man who was harassing the homeless.

Trevor Tice, the drunk man who attacked Sarna and pinned him down so his friends could attack him also.

Zach Lerno, the drunk man who jumped the driver and Sarna and claimed he may have been stabbed in the head but didn't seek medical attention.

Chance Soto, the drunk man who was mentioned by two witnesses, claims he wasn't there and didn't know anything, but somehow knew to show up at the hospital.

Brett Rock, the sober driver who claimed he fled the scene with all of his friends except Tice to take Lerno to the ER, yet he never took Lerno to the ER and never went back for Tice.

California Penal Code 118

(a)Every person who, having taken an oath that he or she will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly before any competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any of the cases in which the oath may by law of the State of California be administered, willfully and contrary to the oath, states as true any material matter which he or she knows to be false, and every person who testifies, declares, deposes, or certifies under penalty of perjury in any of the cases in which the testimony, declarations, depositions, or certification is permitted by law of the State of California under penalty of perjury and willfully states as true any material matter which he or she knows to be false, is guilty of perjury.
This subdivision is applicable whether the statement, or the testimony, declaration, deposition, or certification is made or subscribed within or without the State of California.
(b)No person shall be convicted of perjury where proof of falsity rests solely upon contradiction by testimony of a single person other than the defendant. Proof of falsity may be established by direct or indirect evidence.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Free Austin Sarna by Terry Mohan

San Luis Obispo resident Terry Mohan writes an honest and excellent opinion piece on Sarna's case on CalCoastNews.com.  Mr. Mohan has previously written about Sarna's case in a letter to the editor of New Times.

Free Austin Sarna

OPINION by Terry Mohan
 Austin Sarna, the Good Samaritan transient, who interceded on an assault by several local drunks on a passing motorist in January 2012, has decided to refuse a plea bargain offered by the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s office.

The deal would have put a strike on Austin’s record, for the California Three Strike law, and would have seen him serve as much as two years in jail for stepping up to help the victim of a crime. He has been incarcerated in the SLO county jail since September on the unimaginable bail of $500,000.

The District Attorney’s office has an extremely weak case with “victims” claiming amnesia about the whole incident, witness accounts of the “victims” beating Austin and “victims” who were so intoxicated they were kicking dogs, falling in the street and generally throwing their weight around as they staggered back to their vehicle.

They were looking for anyone to challenge them, as drunks usually do, and were stupid enough to attack someone who they knew had a knife, for protection against just such thugs. The wounds sustained by the “victims” were minor except a wound to the artery in one “victims” arm, which subsequently stopped the assault. This injury was probably caused by Austin defending himself and the “victim” flailing his arms while punching at Austin’s head.

The DA seems to have been intimidated into pursuing these charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon by the influential parents of the “victims” as it took almost nine months to make an arrest. After reviewing the witness statements taken after the incident and a comment made by one of the “victims” the only conclusion to be drawn is the DA’s case rests solely on the impression of an armed homeless transient against innocent upstanding local youths. (aka the drunken, belligerent “victims”).

So as a county taxpayer I will again be writing to the DA questioning his competence on pursuing such a weak case after not long ago failing to convince a jury that belligerent drunks do not make credible “victims.” Austin comes up for another bail hearing on Feb. 5 so if you don’t want to see an additional ten of thousands of county tax dollars wasted on this case take a few minutes and write a letter to the DA asking him to drop this case all together. It will make you feel good encouraging justice to set an innocent man free to return to his fiancĂ©e and newborn baby.
 Terry Mohan is a San Luis Obispo resident who after hearing about this case went to the Superior Court and reviewed the initial witness statements and part of the testimony of the first hearing.

Thank you, Mr, Mohan
(originally posted at http://calcoastnews.com/2013/02/free-austin-sarna/)

New Times SLO article updating Austin's case

SLO stabbing defendant to fight charges

by Matt Fountain

 A 22-year-old Vallejo man accused of attempted murder for his role in a late-night altercation in downtown San Luis Obispo, which left an Atascadero man with a serious laceration, will take his case to trial, arguing self-defense.

Austin Sarna is facing attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon charges following a January 2012 incident in which he says he came to the defense of a motorist who was allegedly being assaulted by a group of at least six men, though it’s unclear how many people in the group physically took part in the fight. According to investigators’ reports, Sarna admitted to brandishing a knife to the group and telling them to leave the motorist alone before being knocked to the ground.

According to multiple witness accounts, Sarna was being punched and kicked in the face when he lashed out with the knife, repeatedly stabbing Trevor Tice, 27, who witnesses say had Sarna pinned to the ground.

Tice suffered eight minor wounds to his back and a serious slash to his left bicep, which severed an artery and caused bleeding that could have been fatal had passersby not alerted police. Tice told New Times he has no recollection of the events.

Police said in an early press release that facts in the case were cloudy due to the intoxication of the alleged victim and the members of the group, although there’s no indication Sarna had been drinking that night, according to police reports.

Sarna is the only person involved in the incident facing charges.

On Jan. 29, Sarna rejected a plea bargain by the D.A.’s Office that would have dismissed his attempted murder charge in exchange for a guilty plea on assault with a deadly weapon charges, which would count as a “strike” according to California’s Three Strikes law, and likely result in a two-year sentence in state prison—though that would likely be reduced by about half due to the state’s new prison realignment. He originally faced approximately eight years, according to DA spokesman Jerret Gran.

Deputy District Attorney Lee Cunningham said the offer will still be good for one week—until Sarna’s next preliminary hearing, set for Feb. 5, the same day Superior Court Judge John Trice will re-evaluate Sarna’s bail. A trial date has been tentatively set for March 19.

(originally posted at http://www.newtimesslo.com/news/8984/slo-stabbing-defendant-to-fight-charges/)