A Fremont man pleaded not guilty today to a murder charge for allegedly using his sport utility vehicle to kill a pedestrian three years ago. Omeed Aziz Popal, 32, is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court on Sept. 9 for a pretrial hearing at which his attorney may
decide whether Popal will change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. Popal was indicted by an Alameda County grand jury April 17 on a murder charge for allegedly striking and killing 54-year-old old Stephen Jay Wilson on Fremont Boulevard, south of Ferry Lane, in Fremont about 11:50 a.m. on Aug. 29, 2006. Popal also faces a use-of-a-deadly-weapon clause for allegedly using his black Honda Pilot SUV to kill Wilson. Popal’s arraignment in Alameda County had been scheduled and postponed three times, but he was finally arraigned today. About 45 minutes after the Fremont incident, Popal went on a 15-minute driving rampage in San Francisco, running down more than a dozen pedestrians on various city streets and sidewalks with his Honda Pilot before being boxed in by police cars in the city’s Laurel Heights neighborhood. The victims’ injuries ranged from minor scrapes to one woman who suffered major injuries and is now a quadriplegic. The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office charged Popal with 16 counts of attempted murder, 16 felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon,
one felony count of battery on a peace officer and one felony count of reckless evasion from police. But on July 31, 2008, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Carol Yaggy ruled that Popal had been legally insane at the time of his San Francisco crimes and found him to be not guilty by reason of insanity. On Aug. 21 Yaggy ordered that Popal be sent to Napa State Hospital for treatment. Yaggy ordered Popal to stay at the Napa facility until his sanity is restored, for a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of 55 years and four months. Popal was transferred from the Napa facility to the Alameda County jail in Dublin on May 7, several weeks after he was indicted.
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