Tenants Rights Group Employees Plead Not Guilty To Murder Charges

Two employees for a tenants rights group who are accused of fatally stabbing a man in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood earlier this month pleaded not guilty to murder charges in San Francisco Superior Court today.

Carlos Argueta, 31, a staff attorney for the Eviction Defense Collaborative, and Pascal Krummenacher, 21, a law student and intern with the group, appeared in court together today for the first time since the Sept. 3 death of 61-year-old James Thomas.

They both entered not guilty pleas to all charges and Deputy Public Defender Peter Santina was assigned to represent Argueta.

Prosecutors allege Argueta stabbed Thomas while robbing the older man with Krummenacher at about 10 p.m. near the Eviction Defense Collaborative offices at Sixth and Market streets.

Krummenacher faces charges of murder, second-degree robbery and receiving stolen property. Argueta faces the same charges and an additional charge of assault with a deadly weapon.

Defense attorney Lewis Romero, who represents Krummenacher, has said video evidence shows the pair were attacked and robbed before Thomas was stabbed, and that they were attempting to retrieve a bag stolen from Argueta.

Assistant District Attorney John Ullom today said prosecutors will present a motion alleging a conflict of interest for the public defender’s office in representing Argueta, but declined to discuss the nature of the conflict outside of court.

Judge Harry Dorfman ordered Krummenacher and Argueta to return to court on Oct. 16 at 9 a.m. for a hearing on the conflict of interest motion.

Krummenacher is out of jail on $1 million bail while Argueta remains in custody with bail set at $2 million.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

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