gavel.jpgOne of two men accused in a fatal gang-related shooting in San Francisco’s Western Addition neighborhood last month pleaded not guilty to murder charges today.

Kenneth Chappell, 33, and Curtis Cail, 20, were arrested in connection with the fatal shooting of 54-year-old James Earl Lee on the night of May 11 near Turk and Laguna streets, police said.

A second victim, a 27-year-old woman, was also shot but survived, according to police.

Cail was arraigned on the various charges on June 8 and pleaded not guilty, but Chappell was missing from court that day after apparently getting into a fight in jail and having to undergo surgery, prosecutors said.

Chappell made his initial appearance in court this morning with a bruised face and pleaded not guilty to murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder, along with firearm-related charges and gang enhancements.

Assistant District Attorney Brian Buckelew said in court today that the special circumstances in the case make Chappell and Cail eligible for the death penalty but that prosecutors would not be seeking capital punishment.

Both men remain in custody–Cail on $5 million bail and Chappell on $2 million bail–and will return to court on July 11 for an evidentiary status hearing.

Deputy Public Defender Steve Olmo, who is representing Chappell, declined to comment on the case after today’s hearing.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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