Two men charged with murder for killing a man in the South of Market neighborhood last year will not go to trial after a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday there is not enough evidence against the pair.
Judge Kay Tsenin decided in the preliminary hearing, which is the process in which a court decides if there is enough evidence to move to trial, that there was insufficient evidence to charge Carlos Argueta, an attorney, and Pascal Krummenacher, a former intern at the nonprofit Eviction Defense Collaborative.
Both men had been charged with murder for the Sept. 3, 2015, killing of 61-year-old James “Rick” Thomas outside Tu Lan Vietnamese.
Krummenacher, a Swiss citizen, and Argueta had also been charged with second-degree robbery and receiving stolen property, and Argueta faced two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Prosecutors believed Thomas was stabbed after Argueta and Krummenacher robbed him of his bag.
“It is unusual for a murder case to be discharged at this stage in the proceeding. The standard is very low,” said Krummenacher’s lawyer Lewis Romero, referring to the standard for prosecutors. “The right decision was made. The case was very thin at the outset.”
District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Max Szabo said the judge’s ruling was “disturbing,” and that his office will now assess the information and determine how to proceed.
Much of the slaying was caught on surveillance tape.
On the night of the killing, Argueta, the alleged stabber, was out celebrating with Krummenacher, who had just completed his internship at the tenants rights organization.
The pair allegedly got into a confrontation over a backpack with Thomas and several other men after exiting a nearby bar. Krummenacher can be seen stumbling drunk in surveillance footage, and at one point he fell to the ground on Sixth Street.