A man accused of killing a 77-year-old San Francisco Chronicle vendor outside a BART station in January pleaded not guilty to murder and elder abuse charges today.
Mark Anthony Cassell, 36, is accused of killing vendor Dallas Ayers in an attack on Jan. 28 near 1 Post St. outside the Montgomery BART station.
Ayers was taken to a hospital after the incident and died on Feb. 21.
Prosecutors have called the case a random assault by Cassell and said he picked the older man up and threw him to the ground.
But defense attorneys claim witnesses have said that Ayers was picked up by someone in a joking manner, then accidentally dropped to the ground, and that identification of Cassell as the suspect is flimsy.
Deputy Public Defender Jennifer Johnson told San Francisco Superior Court Judge Monica Wiley this morning that only one cellphone video from a witness allegedly links Cassell to the incident and that she has not received that evidence from prosecutors.
Cassell remains in custody on $500,000 bail and will return to court on April 10.
Colleagues said Ayers had worked as a newspaper vendor for about 30 years and was on his midday break from the stand in the BART station when he was attacked.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News