Tenant rights attorney held on $2 million bail in murder case

Video still appearing to show Carlos Argueta waving a knife within moments of allegedly stabbing James Thomas on Sixth and Market streets Sept. 3, 2015 (Courtesy photo).

A San Francisco Superior Court judge set bail at $2 million Friday morning for the tenant rights attorney charged with murder in the killing of a 61-year-old man in the Mid-Market Street area earlier this month.

Deputy Public Defender Roberto Evangelista’s requested his client Carlos Argueta, a staff attorney for the Eviction Defense Collaborative, be held on $500,000 bail, but Judge Harry M Dorfman said Argueta’s bail had to be set higher than his co-defendant’s.

Argueta could stand trial alongside Pascal Krummenacher, 21, an intern for the tenant rights group. Argueta was celebrating with Krummenacher on Sept. 3 when he allegedly stabbed James Thomas to death on Sixth and Market streets.

Krummenacher, who has also been charged with murder, was arraigned earlier this week, where his bail was set at $1 million, attorneys said. He made bail and was released under the condition he wear a GPS device.

Dorfman said “it would not be reasonable or fair” for him to set Argueta’s bail lower than Krummenacher’s. “A key alleged fact brought to my attention is Mr. Krummenacher is not the person who stabbed Mr. Thomas,” he said.

Evangelista told the San Francisco Examiner he was worried his client would not even be able to make the requested bail amount, let alone the $2 million set in court Friday. Argueta, 31, will need his supporters to help pay the costs, Evangelista said.

Evangelista argued his client should be held on a lower amount because he allegedly stabbed Thomas in self-defense after he was attacked and robbed by three or more men.

He also established Argueta’s distinguished history as an attorney for domestic violence victims, children and the poor. In 2010, Argueta worked for The Humane Society, prosecuting animal cruelty cases.

But Assistant District Attorney John Ullom, when asking for bail set at $5 million, pointed to a prior conviction for driving under the influence.

Ullom claimed the defendant was the incident’s aggressor. Argueta and Krummenacher were drunk when they tried to rob Thomas of his bag and attacked him, according to Ullom.

The incident was captured on video surveillance reviewed by the San Francisco Examiner earlier this week.

As a condition of the $2 million bail, Dorfman said Argueta would have to abstain from drinking, hand over his passports, stay 150 yards away from Market and Sixth streets, not leave California and wear a GPS monitor.

Argueta and Krummenacher are expected to plead not guilty in court Sept. 29 to murder alongside counts of second-degree robbery and receiving stolen property, attorneys said. Argueta is also expected to plead not guilty to two additional counts of assault with a deadly weapon.


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Video still appearing to show Carlos Argueta waving a knife within moments of allegedly stabbing James Thomas on Sixth and Market streets Sept. 3, 2015 (Courtesy photo).


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