REDWOOD CITY -- Former 49ers and Raiders lineman Kwame Harris was convicted Monday of misdemeanor domestic violence and battery for beating his ex-boyfriend during an argument initially sparked by a dispute over table manners.
A San Mateo County Superior Court jury acquitted him of felony domestic violence and assault charges, which stemmed from the August 2012 beating in the parking lot of a Menlo Park Chinese restaurant. The misdemeanor convictions leave Harris facing a maximum of one year behind bars at sentencing, which is set for Nov. 12.
The case revealed the former Stanford player and first round draft pick's sexual orientation, which until news of the criminal charges surfaced, had not been publicly known. No active NFL player has ever come out as gay.
Harris' attorney Alin Cintean said they will likely appeal the jury's decision. Harris claims his former boyfriend, Dimitri Geier, threw the first punch outside Su Hong restaurant on Menlo Avenue.
"We're disappointed, but we're obviously relieved they acquitted him of the felonies," Cintean said outside court.
Jurors declined to explain their verdict as they exited the courthouse, but the prosecution's case was hampered by Geier's refusal to testify at the trial in the San Mateo County Superior Courtroom of Judge of Joseph Scott. It's not clear why he declined to take the stand.
"Anytime the victim doesn't testify it is a challenge," Deputy District Attorney Brian Donnellan said.
The trouble started on Aug. 21, 2012 as the men shared dinner before Harris was to drive Geier, who lived in Los Angeles, to San Francisco International Airport. Though the men were no longer romantically involved, Geier would stay with Harris when he was in the Bay Area for business in connection with his high-technology job.
During the meal Geier poured soy sauce into or on something, annoying Harris, lawyers said. That incident led an exchange of words and Harris subsequently withdrew his offer to take Geier to the airport. While out in the parking lot retrieving Geier's bags from Harris' car the dispute turned violent.
Both men say the other attacked first and police didn't find any independent witnesses.
Geier sustained a cracked skull that required the surgical implantation of a metal plate in his face, prosecutors said. Geier filed a civil lawsuit over the violence, but subsequently dropped it. It's unclear if he received a settlement payment from Harris.
Harris is out of San Mateo County jail on $75,000 bail.
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.