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Trial begins for two men accused of fatal Mission stabbing

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The trial of two men charged with murder in the stabbing of a 25-year-old man opened Monday morning in San Francisco Superior Court.

Casey Bissell died after being stabbed Dec. 7 while out drinking with friends in the Mission.

The defendants, Andres Novelo and Josue Chan-Perez, are accused of killing Bissell after an altercation outside of a pizza restaurant near Valencia and 16th streets. Both have pleaded not guilty.

According to the prosecution, on the day of the incident Bissell was
visiting The City with his brother and two roommates at Casanova Lounge to celebrate his acceptance to UC Berkeley.

Meanwhile, Novelo and Chan-Perez were having drinks around the corner on 16th Street when they decided to grab food.

“Novelo had been drinking and he was looking for trouble,” said prosecutor Michael Swart.

When the defendants arrived outside Nizario’s, Bissell and a friend were play-fighting on the sidewalk, video footage showed. Novelo allegedly punched the friend in the face and an argument ensued.

Bissell and his friends were seen walking away from the altercation, but one of the women he was with continued to have an exchange with Novelo and he punched her in the face, Swart alleged. The defense claims Novelo only pushed her away with an open-hand to the face. That’s when bystanders turned on Novelo, hitting him and knocking him to the ground, the footage showed.

Bissell and his friends left the scene and were walking down Valencia Street toward 18th Street, the footage showed. The defendants allegedly followed the group for two blocks until they pulled out knives from Novelo’s backpack, according to the prosecution.

Novelo ran toward them. At some point during the altercation, a knife was pushed into Bissell’s heart. Swart claims Novelo stabbed Bissell “solely for the purpose of revenge,” to regain the pride he lost during the altercation outside the pizza parlor. When Novelo was arrested, he was treated at San Francisco General Hospital for a laceration to his
head.

Novelo’s attorney Kwixuan Maloof said his client lost his phone during the struggle and was only trying to get it back from Bissell. “He’s not there to fight, he simply wants his phone back,” Maloof told jurors. “He had to use self defense.”

In addition to murder, Novelo is also charged with three counts of assault and attempted murder.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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