Young San Luis Obispo man falsely charged?

November 29, 2012


A good-hearted young man, active for economic and social rights for all here in San Luis Obispo, Austin Sarna (nickname Smokie), has been charged by the SLO police and the SLO County District Attorney with attempted murder and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon (a knife).

This flows from a case last January where Austin tried to stop a group of drunken attackers going after a young man in a car. He himself was then attacked with fists and knives, and he defended himself against this deadly attack.

Austin is a formerly homeless man, now married with a pregnant wife, with tattoos on his neck, a point made and made again by some of our local media, meaning nothing.

He himself carried no weapon. The other men are well connected and are being covered for.

Austin is the fall guy. The district attorney, obsessed with its “over 90 percent conviction rate” (justice, anyone ?) here in “Happy Town,” offered to drop the totally bogus attempted murder charge if Austin pleaded guilty to the assault charges — an eight-year sentence.

Austin, being innocent of it all and with a pregnant wife, rightly refused. This is a rich man-poor man story if there ever was one, propelled by an overzealous and conviction happy District Attorney’s office that harbors a heavy class prejudice. Tell the district attorney to drop these asinine charges against this young father to be. Now!



What do we really know? What we know is that ‘Smokie’ was in a fight and someone was stabbed.

This is an ‘opinion piece’ which means it is one side of the coin… I would like to read about what the ‘well healed’ gentlemen have to say for themselves. Where is their interview… or are they advised ‘no comment’ at this time.

Too many unanswered questions.


Since the “well healed” gentlemen were the ones who actually committed the assaults and all have priors and/or are on probation for committing very similar crimes as the ones from the night of this incident, we probably won’t be hearing from them.


time wounds all heels


here’s more information on this story:


Good Link, i encourage everyone to read this link. Has our DA lost his mind? This sort of DA style “grandstanding” is exactly why we hear of innocent victims being beaten or murdered in the streets while other “would be good Samaritans” who are able to help the victim stand by and watch.

This prosecution is a travesty of justice. I hope a “good Samaritan attorney steps up” and takes DA Shae DOWN.


While you will easily get support here or wherever there’s brainpower at work, especially with regards to our corrupt City, the end effect will be same-old-same-old.

I don’t like it anymore than anyone here, but seriously, we just re-elected the same bunch or sorry folks that people on the right and left seemed to agree were toxic. Considering this, do not expect there to be any change in the top at any level of government for some time. The cowards and crooks got reinforced by the lazy and uninformed and will ride that pony until it drops dead.

I wish Mr. Sarna all the best, and would love to say things will work out for the best, but I am afraid that will not be the case here. SLO corruption always wins out, it seems.


I’ve read enough police reports (exercises in creative writing at times), trial summaries, and forensic

reports over the last two decades to state without fear of contradiction that the possible fate of “Smokie”

is being lived out daily by quite a few men in Atascadero State Hospital. Bottom line, if you don’t have anything but a public defender you are going to do time.


Just a suggestion…file a Citizens Report on the incident.

At least that could be another leverage point to help provide more corroborating evidence or testimony.


Jim, You need to give details and name names. You may be correct in your assertions but how are we to know?


From a Tribune article, January 20, 2012:

“Investigators said the stabbing appears to have occurred near the southeast corner of Broad and Monterey streets, according to the news release. Prior to the stabbing, Tice and a friend were involved in a physical fight with several other people, officers said, which may have occurred on the sidewalk and spilled into the street.” And then: “The friend with Tice, 26-year-old Atascadero resident Zachary Lerno, was hit during the fight and received a head injury, according to police. Lerno left the area before officers arrived and did not received treatment for his injuries.” Link here to the original article.

It would seem the writer of this opinion piece may have some truth to his version of the story, and it will be curious to see if the assertion about the DA going after “an easy target” is what truly happens in this case, justice be damned. Is it possible that our office of District Attorney for San Luis Obispo could be any more incompetent or being directed in such a manner?


So I’m a little confused. I remember this happening and reread the article but where is it that Mr. Sarna fits in? Are you saying that Tice and Lerno attacked him or that he helped them? Not clear on what you are saying. Thanks.


To answer one of your questions, Tice and Lerno attacked Sarna. Actually, Tice, Lerno, and several others were attacking someone else when Sarna tried to get them to stop and they began attacking Sarna, too.


I am not saying anything; the Tribune has had two articles concerning the incident for which Mr. Sarna was arrested for; I linked to the first article that was published in January of this year, and here is the link to the second article from September. While I can believe that our DAs office could prosecute an innocent man, I do reserve the right to be skeptical of the assertions made by the author of this opinion piece; like I stated before though, it does seem like there could be some truth to what Mr. Griffin has written about. Read both articles, the one from January first, the one from September next, then come back here and read the opinion piece here again and let all of that information roll around in you head for a little while and see if Mr. Griffin’s assertions just might have some credence.


First off, thanks for posting follow up. I had read the second article but just didn’t click at time. Anyway that said, I am really stuck on this story. Usually I come down on one side or the other. On this I could believe either side. Glad I’m not on jury.

Anyway this will be interesting to watch as evidence comes out to who is telling the truth, in what is definately a he said she said type of story.


Actually, Sarna’s pretrial was on November 15 and most of the evidence came out. Sarna witnessed a group of at least 5 men randomly attack a complete stranger. Sarna tried to intervene and help the stranger and was then attacked himself. Sarna’s account and the other victim’s account match. The five men who attacked these two either “don’t remember”, are blaming each other for instigating the violence, or have invoked their right to remain silent.


You state that you are glad you are not on the jury; I myself would actually like to be on this particular jury. I have reported for jury duty 3 or 4 times over the years, have never been seated on one, and this trial sure seems to be an interesting case to see how the DAs office is going to either try to hang out the accused, or are they truly interested in finding “justice”? It may be that the young man accused here is guilty, would not be a total surprise, but in what I have been able to read, both in the articles on the Tribune site and the link provided by “gardenslo”, I am leaning much more in favor of Austin Sarna being “not guilty”. I do understand that I do not have access to all of the evidence that the jury has (or at least should have), but it does seem quite possible that the two “victims” actually were part of an attack on a third person and Mr. Sarna tried to intervene to help out the person being attacked. I do not find that possibility as being unreasonable at all.


Mr. Sarna was out walking his dog. He happened to witness a group of men kick at a car that was stopped at an intersection. He witnesses the driver get

out of the car to confront the men. They started beating the driver and

Mr. Sarna tried to intervene as there were 5 or more and the driver looked in

need of help. The men then turned on Mr. Sarna pinning him down and

beating him, beating him in the face while others were kicking him in the


It make one think of the case of Brian Stowe (SF Giants Fan). Had someone

intervened for him would he not now be suffering from brain damage? If

Mr.Sarna had not intervened for this stranger, would he have been beaten so bad that he too suffered brain damage or worse?

The fact that some one was morale enough to stand up to a crime in

progress and try to put a stop to it and is now locked up in jail, while the real

criminals are enjoying the holidays with there families is the real travesty of


To have the SLO police department testify that the men were drunk and had

initiated both fights of two innocent bystanders and they just let them go??

In my opinion, Tice and Lerno will continue to get drunk and disorderly in

public and the question you have to ask yourselves is who is next?

Your mother? sister? wife? fiance? your child? This was not their first time.


Your opinion piece seems a little bias and certainly lacking of facts. Not a complete story I am sure… Need more facts and less sympathy!


Opinions are generally biased – you did not know this? The clue is in the wording: OPINION.

Heh, just had to poke a stick at that. It amazes me that we sometimes do not understand the difference between news and opinion.


Considering DA Shea’s track record, this does not surprise me in the slightest.

What are the names of the other men and who are they well connected to? If they are abusing their connections with people in authority and power, let’s name names and expose their behavior. Keeping them anonymous does nothing to help your cause.