District Attorney Chesa Boudin at a hearing for Patrick Thompson at the Hall of Justice, Friday, May 7, 2021 (Pool photo by Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle)

District Attorney Chesa Boudin at a hearing for Patrick Thompson at the Hall of Justice, Friday, May 7, 2021 (Pool photo by Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle)

Suspect in Market Street stabbings told police he had no regrets, DA says

Man with history of mental illness to remain in custody pending trial

A mentally ill man charged in the unprovoked stabbings of two older women along Market Street was upset and “looking for someone to assault” when he left his home carrying weapons that day, prosecutors said Thursday.

District Attorney Chesa Boudin offered up the new details in the high-profile case while asking a judge to hold Patrick Thompson, 54, in jail without the option of bail as he awaits trial on attempted murder charges.

Thompson allegedly admitted to being upset and looking to hurt someone in an interview with police investigators following his arrest in the May 4 knife attack at a bus stop near Fourth and Market streets.

“It may well be that Mr. Thompson has a history of mental illness,” Boudin said in court. “But in this instance and at this juncture public safety requires that Mr. Thompson be detained.”

Thompson’s case has garnered national attention because the victims in the case are Asian. But Boudin has said the District Attorney’s Office does not have evidence of the attack being a hate crime thus far.

Boudin said Thompson admitted “he almost killed someone that day” and to possibly being in the area on the day of the incident. He allegedly identified himself in video evidence from the case. And when asked whether he had any regrets, Boudin said Thompson most troublingly told police “no.”

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Brian Ferrall agreed with Boudin over the objections of the Public Defender’s Office, which asked that Thompson be released to home detention under electronic monitoring.

Ferrall found that releasing Thompson carried a substantial likelihood of someone else being seriously hurt because the alleged crimes were unprovoked and potentially deadly. He also based his ruling on Thompson having violent arrests in his past, including for an assault with a deadly weapon in 2017.

“I don’t question the fact that the defendant is in need of mental health services and I hope that he can be provided those,” Ferrall said. “However ultimately this decision is about ensuring public safety in the interim.”

While Deputy Public Defender Eric Fleischaker conceded that there is evidence of the attack occurring, he argued the prosecution lacked evidence of Thompson intending to commit the alleged crimes.

“You have to have a criminal mindset to be guilty of these offenses and Mr. Thompson was not in his right mind,” Fleischaker said. “He did not have access to the services and care that he needed at that time.”

Fleischaker called into question the veracity of Thompson’s statements to police because of his mental illness, saying his client was placed under psychiatric evaluation following his arrest.

Fleischaker argued that Thompson would not be a threat to public safety if released. He said Thompson has a record of arrests for violent crimes from 2017 but his record is otherwise “exclusively” for drug offenses.

Court records show Thompson a prior felony conviction in San Francisco for possession for sale of cocaine base from 2006, and in San Joaquin County for first-degree residential burglary from 1988.

Fleischaker said Thompson “thrived” after receiving medication and treatment through a Mental Health Diversion program following his 2017 arrests. He said Thompson “successfully completed” the program.

Thompson has been charged with various counts of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse. He is facing a possible life sentence and is due back in court Monday to set a date for another hearing.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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