San Mateo County prosecutors have decided not to pursue a retrial in the case of Kelly Weston, a former Menlo-Atherton High School assistant track coach convicted Dec. 11 of misdemeanor battery for pushing a boy. The jury had deadlocked on charges that Mr. Weston had also made criminal threats and had engaged in child cruelty, and prosecutors announced today that they would not seek to retry him on those charges.
Mr. Weston pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The four-day jury trial, presided over by Superior Court Judge Robert Foiles, centered on an incident in which three Hispanic youth were playing outside Mr. Weston's trailer home in unincorporated Redwood City last May, and a soccer ball bounced against the wall of the home. According to prosecutors, he responded by coming out of his house, pushing one boy and making racially charged threats to all three.
"We feel that the court has sufficient (latitude) to sentence the defendant appropriately on the one count" of battery, Assistant District Attorney Karen Guidotti said in an interview.
A criminal conviction requires a unanimous jury. In Mr. Weston's case, a majority on the jury concluded that his actions and words were not motivated by racial prejudice, Ms. Guidotti said.
A probation report and sentencing hearing is set for Friday, Feb. 5, she said.
Mr. Weston could be fined up to $2,000 and spend up to six months in jail on the battery conviction, Ms. Guidotti said.
Mr. Weston remains free on $50,000 bail. He has declined to comment on the case.
Asked to comment on Mr. Weston's future at M-A, Sequoia Union High School District spokeswoman Bettylu Smith said that M-A "does not have plans to renew Mr. Weston's contract for the upcoming track season."
The boys -- two 12-year-olds and an 11-year old -- say the soccer ball struck the house by accident. Mr. Weston, 63, allegedly came out and told the kids that he hated them, that he hated "your kind" and Mexicans in general, and that he could "kill" them "right now," prosecutors said.
The children reported the exchange to their parents, who reported it to a deputy from the Sheriff's Office, who then interviewed the boys, prosecutors said.
A deputy who interviewed Mr. Weston said "some of the hate language that was charged, some of that was used in the interview," prosecutors said.
In the trial, prosecutor Brian Raft structured his case around testimony from the boys, the mother of two of the boys, a deputy sheriff, and the manager of the trailer park, who allegedly overheard some of the altercation, Ms. Guidotti said.
In defense, Mr. Weston's attorney Harriotte "Hallie" Aaron began with an "ear" witness who claimed to be talking on the phone with Mr. Weston during the altercation. But during cross examination, the witness could not say for certain on which day he was talking with Mr. Weston, Ms. Guidotti said.
M-A community members have come to Mr. Weston's defense, saying that the incident is out of character, and that he is "very, very wonderful" with kids, prosecutors said.
Mr. Weston coached at M-A "going on 40 years" and won the 2005-06 Coach's Honor Award from the Central Coast Section of the Peninsula Athletic League, he said in an e-mail to The Almanac.