Previously: Creighton’s Stabbing Trial Begins Today
A parolee who fantasized about killing people and “sending them to another dimension” and who stabbed a 15-year-old (The stabbing victim testified earlier today that she was 15 years old when the incident occurred, not 14 years old as earlier reported) San Francisco girl a day after being released from prison in 2007 had “obvious psychological issues” but was legally sane at the time, prosecutors argued today.
Opening statements in the trial of 29-year-old Scott Thomas, accused in the May 19, 2007, attack at Creighton’s Bakery near Twin Peaks took place this morning in San Francisco Superior Court.
Thomas had been released on parole from San Quentin State Prison the day before, after serving nearly four months for a parole violation. He had previous convictions for grand theft auto, hit and run, petty theft and vandalism. The state Office of the Inspector General later concluded he had been mistakenly released.
Thomas is now charged with two counts of attempted murder, one count of aggravated mayhem and one count of assault with a deadly weapon. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Prosecutor Scot Clark told the jury today that Thomas had planned to kill people and “considered himself the devil.”
Arming himself with a knife, he came to San Francisco on the lookout for “a victim who was vulnerable,” Clark said.
Walking into the bakery, he found 15-year-old Loren Schaller standing in line, cut her across the back of her head, and then plunged the knife into the side of her neck, severing her jugular vein, Clark said.
A 60-year-old man in the bakery rushed to Schaller’s aid and was stabbed twice in the upper chest and once in the side, suffering a punctured lung, Clark said.
A doctor who happened to be in the bakery was able to attend to Schaller’s wounds until paramedics arrived. She later recovered after multiple surgeries, but still does not have full use of one of her arms and has permanent scarring.
A witness followed Thomas from the scene of the stabbing and sheriff’s deputies arrested him behind Laguna Honda Hospital, according to Clark.
“And Mr. Thomas lay prone on the ground and began to sing,” Clark said.
He said Thomas reportedly told people he had been planning to kill someone for months and had “obvious psychological issues,” but argued that Thomas did possess the intent and deliberation required for a first-degree attempted murder conviction.
“He was aware what was happening in this dimension here on Earth,” said Clark.
Thomas’ attorney Stephen Rosen agreed that Thomas committed the attacks.
“This was a senseless, vicious, brutal attack,” he said, and acknowledged the suffering of the victims.
Rosen said that Thomas’ statement to police right after his arrest indicated, “In his mind, what he was doing was not trying to kill someone, was not trying to maim someone.”
Thomas told police he was trying “to send these people (the victims) to another dimension, following the path of something called the well-met,” Rosen said.
Rosen said Thomas has had various diagnoses of schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder or psychosis, and also suffers from anti-social personality disorder. Rosen said the law recognizes the first three mental illnesses, but not the last.
Rosen argued that “almost all” the doctors who evaluated Thomas would agree he has “a genuine and disabling mental illness” that “literally takes one’s mind from one.”
“And this mental illness robs the person of choice, robs the person of the ability to see what is there,” he told jurors.
In Thomas’ mind, Rosen said, “if he sent these people to another dimension, he would be then the master of the universe.”
“He sees himself at times as the devil, and at times as God,” Rosen said. “And this is a genuine perception by him.”
“He did not harbor true premeditation and deliberation required for first-degree murder,” Rosen said. He told the jury to convict his client of lesser, non-aggravated charges of mayhem and assault.
“He’s crazy,” Clark said during a break outside the courtroom this morning. “He just ain’t legally crazy.”
If convicted of any of the charges, Thomas would face a second trial to determine if he was legally insane at the time.