* Blake Mastro was convicted of attempted murder for the brutal stabbing of a man in the Berkeley hills
Published by Staff Reporter on March 22, 2011
One suspect has been convicted of attempted murder for the brutal stabbing of a man on a quiet street in the Berkeley hills more than three years ago, but another suspect has been acquitted of that charge. After more than two days of deliberations, jurors on Monday convicted 23-year-old Blake Mastro of attempted murder and robbery for the Oct. 25, 2006, attack that left Hamed Mirabdal, a Moraga man who was 19 at the time, paralyzed on his left side for the rest of his life. Jurors acquitted 27-year-old Nicolas Flatbush of attempted murder and only convicted him of robbery. Prosecutor Eric Swallwell said jurors believed Flatbush’s testimony that he only intended to rob Mirabdal and had no idea that Mastro would stab Mirabdal 25 times in his neck and chest in the attack in front of 74 Poppy Lane. Mastro faces up to 16 years in state prison when he’s sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer on May 13, but Flatbush will only face a maximum term of five years when he is sentenced by Hymer on April 19. After the verdicts were announced, Mirabdal’s father, Ali Mirabdal, said he’s “not happy” that Flatbush was acquitted of attempted murder even though he agrees with the prosecution’s theory that Mastro planned the crime and was the only person who stabbed his son. Mirabdal said Flatbush “may not be as guilty as Mastro, but he should have gotten more” because he doesn’t think Mastro would have been able to stab his son without Flatbush’s assistance. Mirabdal said he’s also upset that his family had to wait four-and-a-half years before the case went to trial. “No family should have to wait this long for justice,” he said. Mirabdal said his son has had to undergo surgery every few months since he was stabbed and will have open-heart surgery soon. Flatbush testified two weeks ago that his plan was to hold down Hamed Mirabdal and Mastro was to take $4,800 in cash that they believed the 19 year old was carrying. He said he was “shocked” when Mastro repeatedly stabbed Mirabdal. Swallwell told jurors that Mirabdal, who played football at Campolindo High School in Moraga and now attends college, had been reselling marijuana he had bought at medical cannabis clubs and wanted to burnish his “tough guy” reputation by purchasing firearms from Mastro, who offered to sell guns at a discounted rate. Swallwell alleged that Mastro never intended to sell guns to Mirabdal and instead wanted to trick him into bringing a large amount of cash so he could kill Mirabdal and take the money. But Mastro’s lawyer, Joann Kingston, told jurors that Mastro should be found not guilty because there is no reliable evidence that he was at the scene of the crime. Kingston said she believes Mastro was the victim of a conspiracy by Flatbush and prosecutors to blame the crime on him. Kingston couldn’t be reached for comment after the verdicts. Flatbush’s lawyer, William DuBois, said he thinks the acquittal of Flatbush on the attempted murder charge “was a just verdict because he didn’t stab the victim.” DuBois said he will ask that Flatbush not serve any time in state prison because “he was an asset to the prosecution” by giving a statement about the crime to authorities and being “forthright” in his testimony in the trial. Swallwell said he asked jurors in his closing argument to convict Flatbush of attempted murder but also told them that “justice would be served” even if they decided to acquit him. Swallwell said, “I can see how the jury arrived at its verdict.” The prosecutor said Flatbush “really did not have any idea that Mastro would stab Mirabdal so brutally and savagely.”
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