Jury acquits man in gasoline splashing at Fiesta Island
by NEAL PUTNAM
Published - 06/06/19 - 07:05 AM | 884 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After deliberating five hours over two days, a jury acquitted a man on June 5 of attempted murder and attempted manslaughter in the splashing of gasoline on a woman at Fiesta Island.

The jury also acquitted Myles Edward Chapin, 46, of assault with a deadly weapon, which was gasoline, that may have splashed onto Rhonda Chittenden, of Pacific Beach, in a July 12, 2018 incident.

Chapin smiled broadly at his attorney, Angel Turner, after the verdict from the seven man, five woman jury was read at the end of the one-week trial.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert Trentacosta ordered Chapin released from jail Wednesday where he has been on $1 million bail since the incident. He is from San Diego.

Jurors said afterwards they were not convinced that gasoline was ever spilled on Chittenden, with one juror commenting “her story kept changing.”

“It was she said, he said, circumstantial,” said a female juror. “I didn’t have proof.”

“We couldn’t be absolutely sure,” said a male juror.

“The standards of finding someone guilty are very, very high,” said a juror.

Chapin acknowledged he poured gasoline over himself during the 4 p.m. incident, but denied spilling any on Chittenden. His lawyer told jurors it was not illegal to try to commit suicide.

“I don’t threaten women. Rhonda was my friend,” testified Chapin. “I was bluffing, attempting to draw…sympathy from my friend.”

“I doused myself pretty thoroughly,” said Chapin. “If that had lit, I would have lit up like a Roman candle.”

“I did not put any gas on her. She was five feet from me,” said Chapin. “She was demanding the money I owed her.”

He said he instantly regretted splashing himself with gasoline, as it got into one of his eyes and he dashed towards the water to rinse it out.

Chapin said he did take out two lighters, but put them back in his pocket, saying “I did not want to die like that.” A police officer testified it was so windy that afternoon, it would have been difficult to get a lighter to work.

“The (prosecution) accept the jury’s verdict,” said Deputy District Attorney Matthew Greco afterwards. “The jury spoke.”

Trentacosta thanked jurors for their service, saying “I can see you were attentive during the trial.”

Turner asked jurors to acquit Chapin of all charges, saying he did not intend to harm or kill the woman.
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