gavel.jpgAn alleged career criminal who was found in possession of a homicide victim’s debit card hours after his death in San Francisco’s Mission District last month pleaded not guilty to murder and robbery charges today.

Roland Pouncy, 42, is accused of strangling Richard Sprague, 47, early the morning of Feb. 19 in the 100 block of Julian Avenue.

Sprague was found after someone called police to report that a man had been lying in the street for more than an hour and hadn’t moved.

Several hours later, Pouncy was arrested near 16th and Mission streets and was found to have Sprague’s debit card, police said.

Prosecutors initially charged Pouncy with receiving stolen property, but dropped that charge Tuesday and filed an amended complaint accusing him of robbing and killing Sprague.

Assistant District Attorney Eric Fleming said DNA evidence in the case “supports that it was Mr. Pouncy that strangled” Sprague.

Pouncy appeared in court this afternoon to be arraigned on the new charges. He pleaded not guilty to all counts and was ordered held on $2 million bail by Judge Gerardo Sandoval.

Pouncy’s defense attorney, Deputy Public Defender Stephen Rosen, said, “The case against Mr. Pouncy needs to be investigated thoroughly.”

Rosen said, “I can unequivocally state that it would be a mistake to assume the evidence against him points unerringly to his guilt.”

Pouncy will return to court on April 5 to set a future date in the case.

Prosecutors said previously that Pouncy has served two prior prison terms for offenses in San Francisco, and has a lengthy rap sheet statewide.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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