Had a Fresno jury not mistakenly released a 37-year-old career criminal on Wednesday, he would not have ended up dead less than an hour later following a fight at his sister's house, the city's police chief said.
Bobby Lee Pearson got what started out as an unbelievable break Wednesday after a Fresno jury mistakenly checked the "not guilty" box on the court form for his burglary trial, an error that a judge determined could not be corrected.
But he also noted that Pearson had 11 previous criminal convictions and was a member of a local street gang.
Pearson's rap sheet goes back more than a decade, with convictions on multiple weapons charges and arrests for battery, resisting a peace officer and injuring a co-inhabitant, court records show.
Dryer said that when people like Bobby Pearson are involved in a life of crime involving gangs, "there is always a potential for him to become the victim of violent crime."
Still, Pearson's ultimate fate troubled even Fresno County Deputy Dist. Atty. William Terrence.
"It's not like he was facing the death penalty, he was going to face some prison time. It was a very unfortunate incident," Terrence said.