Surveillance footage appears to show Pascal Krummenacher, near, with his brown backpack and Carlos Argueta with his messenger bag when James “Rick” Thomas was fatally stabbed on Sept. 3, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

SF tenants’ rights attorney re-charged with murder for Market Street slaying

A tenants’ rights attorney whose murder charge for the slaying of a homeless man on Market Street was dropped last year has been arrested and charged again with the crime after being indicted by a grand jury earlier this month, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

Carlos Argueta, 33, was arrested at work on May 18 in Los Angeles, where he lives. He was then transported back to San Francisco where he appeared for his arraignment in San Francisco Superior Court on Wednesday morning before Judge Garrett Wong, according to the Public Defender’s Office.

He did not enter a plea and will next appear in court May 31.

Argueta and Pascal Krummenacher — a former intern at the nonprofit Eviction Defense Collaborative — had been charged with murder for the Sept. 3, 2015, killing of James “Rick” Thomas, 61, outside Tu Lan Vietnamese in the South of Market.

But last November, Judge Kay Tsenin decided in Argueta’s preliminary hearing that there was insufficient evidence to charge Argueta or Krummenacher.

The new charges and arrest were especially concerning for Argueta’s lawyer, who maintains Argueta was defending himself.

“Mr. Argueta was attacked and acted in lawful self-defense,” Argueta’s lawyer Peter Santina said in court Wednesday, adding that the refiling of charges by Assistant District Attorney Andrew Ganz flies in the face of the facts.

“Without notice to Mr. Argueta or his attorney, the district attorney got an indictment in May, more than five months later, after putting almost entirely the same witnesses who testified at the preliminary hearing before a grand jury,” Santina said to Wong.

District Attorney’s Office spokesperson Max Szabo, who had previously called the dropping of the case against Argueta “disturbing,” said that refilling of the charges is the prerogative of his office.

“We have a 31-year-old [now 33] defendant and 61-yearold victim who was stabbed in the heart,” Szabo wrote in a statement following the refiling of charges. “Ultimately, we strongly disagreed with the judge’s ruling, which is why we took the case to a grand jury.”

He added, “By indicting the defendant, at least 12 members of the grand jury agreed with our assessment of the facts and the law, and unless this case is settled out of court, a jury will ultimately decide the merits of the charges.”

The District Attorney’s Office did not pursue refiling charges against Krummenacher, said Szabo.

Argueta is in County Jail on a $2 million bond.

The killing

Part of the 2015 killing was caught on video after a struggle broke out near the intersection of Sixth and Market streets.

Argueta, the alleged stabber, was celebrating with Krummenacher, who had just completed his internship at the tenants’ rights organization, when they got into a confrontation with Thomas.

The confrontation was allegedly over a backpack with Thomas and several other men. In the surveillance video, Krummenacher can be seen stumbling and appearing drunk. At one point he fell to the ground on Sixth Street.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Pascal Krummenacher, the former intern initially charged in the killing.


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