gavel.jpgA San Francisco man accused of fatally shooting another man in the city’s Mission District on Labor Day pleaded not guilty to murder charges today.

Joseph Johnson, 31, was arrested last Friday in connection with the killing of Dwayne Spruell, 45, police said.

Spruell, also a San Francisco resident, was shot at about 2:15 a.m. on Sept. 5 in the first block of Camp Street, near Guerrero Street, police said.

Johnson was charged with murder and firearm violations, and pleaded not guilty to all charges in San Francisco Superior Court this morning.

Prosecutor John Rowland said in court that the shooting was “a particularly brutal crime” in which Spruell was shot twice in the face and once in the chest.

Judge Jeffrey Ross maintained the previously set bail amount of $2 million, saying Johnson is a public safety risk.

But Johnson’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Roberto Evangelista, said outside of court that there is no hard evidence linking his client to the shooting.

Evangelista said Johnson does not have a violent criminal history, and has a 7-month-old daughter.

“He’s a family man,” he said.

Several of Spruell’s family members and friends attended the hearing.

“My nephew shouldn’t have been shot down like that,” said his aunt, Diane Jeffers. “He didn’t deserve that.”

Johnson will return to court on Oct. 11 for a hearing on evidence in the case.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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