Charges of attempted murder against a man who sold his AIDS-tainted blood were dismissed today by a judge who said prosecutors failed to show that the defendant intended to kill, as required by law.
Joseph Markowski stared straight ahead blankly as the ruling was announced by Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen. His defense attorney, Guy O'Brien, said he believed that Markowski did not understand the judge's ruling and asked that his client be transferred to a psychiatric facility.
Markowski, identified by authorities as a male prostitute working mostly in the Hollywood area, has tested positive for the presence of the deadly AIDS virus but he has not manifested symptoms of the disease itself.
However, the judge ruled that sufficient evidence exists to try Markowski on two lesser counts of attempted poisoning, which carry a possible maximum sentence of three years. Coen set trial on the poisoning charges for Jan. 6.
Coen said that the evidence introduced during Markowski's preliminary hearing showed only "an implied malice, or a reckless disregard for human life."
The evidence failed to show that Markowski intended to kill anyone when he went to a plasma center to sell his blood.
O'Brien had argued that Markowski was driven by his own need for money, not by a desire to harm anyone.
"The man was desperate," O'Brien said. "The man needed money. He went to the blood bank for that purpose. . . . His desperation was so great that he didn't care if he harmed others.
"Not caring about harm to others is far different from intending to commit murder," O'Brien said.