Attempted murder charge in arson attack

San Francisco prosecutors have charged a homeless man with attempted murder for allegedly lighting another homeless man on fire earlier this month as the victim lay sleeping in Golden Gate Park.

The suspect, 47-year-old Eric Dilbeck, was already in custody on another charge when police arrested him at the county jail last Tuesday for the attempted murder of Bryon Rowe.

Prosecutors have since filed charges of attempted murder, assault with caustic chemicals, possession of combustible material and arson causing great bodily injury.

Dilbeck, who remains in custody in lieu of $750,000 bail, appeared in court on the charges Monday morning, but arraignment was postponed until Wednesday to allow time for an attorney from the public defender's office to be appointed, according to the district attorney's office.

Rowe, 55, was asleep in the grass in Sharon Meadow at about 1 p.m. on Nov. 13 when police say Dilbeck allegedly poured lighter fluid on him and set him ablaze.

Rowe suffered second- and third-degree burns on his back, police said.

He required skin grafts and remains at the hospital, but was saved from further injury because he was wearing two coats at the time, police
said.

The two men were believed to have known each other, but authorities are uncertain of the motive for the attack.

Witnesses identified Dilbeck as the suspect from a photo spread, police said.

Dilbeck has prior convictions for robberies in Texas in 1979 and 1982 and dozens of arrests in San Francisco since 1992, most for trespassing and drug-related offenses, according to the district attorney's office.

Dilbeck was arrested on Oct. 31 for public drunkenness and again on Nov. 18, for possessing marijuana for sale.

Rowe has previous convictions for misdemeanor petty theft in Oakland in 2005 and for trespassing in Monterey County in 2006, according to the district attorney's office.

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