26 Jan 19
The Mercury News
MARTINEZ — The family of a man who died from an infection two days after police say he was stabbed on a BART train is urging the court to not put the accused killer on trial or send him to prison.
That’s the message the family of Pittsburg resident Gerald Bisbee, 51,conveyed in a letter their attorney read Friday during a preliminary hearing.
Abdul Bey, 20, is charged with stabbing Bisbee after the two allegedly argued July 18 on a train at the Pleasant Hill BART station.
Bisbee suffered a bloody lip and small cut on his knee from the attack. He went to a hospital the and was discharged, but was found dead in his bed on July 20.
After BART police and a forensic pathologist testified at the preliminary hearing to determine whether Bey should be tried for murder, attorney Mary Carey — who represents Bisbee’s sister — read a letter to the court expressing the family’s hope that Bey doesn’t go to trial or serve time in prison.
The family initially was “enraged,” according to the letter, but “while Mr. Bey’s actions may have been reckless, we do not believe he had any malice.”
The letter further states that Bisbee’s sister does not believe Bey was the aggressor in the fight and instead was reacting to her brother’s hostility toward him.
A surveillance camera video from the BART train shows the two men fighting on the train car. Catherine Lahanas, a detective with the BART Police Department, testified that Bey told her during the investigation Bisbee had spit in his face and grabbed his bag as he tried to leave the train, which triggered the brawl. Bey had been homeless and sometimes slept on BART.
When she told Bey later that Bisbee had died, he reportedly asked, “He’s really not breathing? He’s really dead?”
Bisbee had suffered a small cut — less than half an inch long and what a forensic pathologist called “superficial” — to his left leg, allegedly from a knife Bey held during the fight. Although an ambulance had been summoned by BART police following the fracas, Bixbee refused medical treatment for both that and his bloodied lip and went home instead of to the hospital. When police arrested Bey, they found a steak knife in his bag.
Bisbee complained of pain the next day and on July 20 went to a Kaiser in Walnut Creek, according to a BART police officer who spoke with Bisbee’s mother on the night of his death and testified at the hearing. He was discharged from Kaiser and died that same night in his Pittsburg home.
Mark Super, the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy, testified Friday that the infection was caused by a bacteria called Group A Streptococcus, which could have been on one of the surfaces he came into contact with, including the BART floor where police had him sit in handcuffs after the fight, or any benches he sat on, including in the emergency room. While it might have been on the knife that allegedly punctured Bisbee’s leg, the common bacteria could already have been on Bisbee’s skin, Super said.
“Who could have predicted a cut this small” would have killed Bisbee, the letter asks, adding that the family does not want a trial.
“We want to quietly process this and move on. The district attorney seems to have an agenda different from ours,” the letter states. “We believe prison provides little in the way of rehabilitation,”
The prosecutor in the case, Kabu Adodoadji, declined through a spokesman to comment on the letter or the case. During the preliminary hearing, he confirmed that he had spoken to the family.
“I think it is a gross overcharging,” Rebecca Brackman, an attorney with the county public defender’s office who is representing Bey, said about the murder charge. While the family’s statement isn’t a legal basis, “I think their wishes should be heard and afforded respect,” she said.
The preliminary hearing has been continued to Feb. 15.