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Alleged robber's 'spaceship' trip defense gets him acquitted

Technically Incorrect: A San Francisco man insists that he was so high on meth that he believed he wasn't entering an apartment building but leaving Earth, which was about to be destroyed.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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There's a San Francisco apartment building that looks like this? SpaceVids.TV/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Once or twice, when I've done something astoundingly stupid, I've let myself (and others) believe that aliens made me do it.

I have never, though, entered a random apartment building (or Apple's new campus), taken my shoes and shirt off and claimed that I thought it was a spaceship.

That's not to say such things don't happen. Allegedly.

I am moved to an emotional black hole on hearing that a San Francisco man who allegedly entered an apartment building and then tried to get to its roof insisted he thought it was, indeed, a spaceship. He needed one, you see, because the Earth was being destroyed. (I know this too, but all I need is a stiff snifter.)

As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, 41-year-old Santino Aviles offered this defense with considerable success. He stood accused of assault likely to produce bodily injury, battery with serious bodily injury, as well as robbery and attempted robbery.

His lawyer reportedly explained that his client was so high on meth that his delusions told him he needed to flee to outer space. Could he have possibly got this idea from Newt Gingrich?

The particular building in San Francisco's Mission District looked, to Aviles, like a spaceship docking station. I know the Mission District quite well and I've never confused any of its buildings for a place to park a rocket.

SF Weekly offers some more delicious details of Aviles's spaced-out behavior. He allegedly grabbed a resident's medicine ball and believed he would float off to space with it. He also allegedly grabbed the resident's passport, because you still need to prove your citizenship on the Planet Plim.

Aviles was found guilty of misdemeanor-level battery and assault but acquitted on the other charges. However, expert testimony helped his cause. I cannot confirm it was given by Mr. Gowron Klingon.

Aviles's alleged behavior reportedly led to a fight which involved a baseball bat and two residents. One resident complained that after this encounter they developed a mysterious rash. Can we be sure, therefore, that there was no extraterrestrial presence at the scene?

I hope that no one involved in this incident was permanently scarred. It's a warning, though, to anyone buzzing a stranger into an apartment building to beware. His real name might not be James T. Kirk.