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A 63-year-old man accused of fatally stabbing another man at a homeless shelter in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood last week pleaded not guilty to murder charges today. Rickey Leon Scott is accused of using a knife to stab Abdul Smith, 44, during a fight at the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s homeless shelter at 525 Fifth St. shortly before 7 p.m. on Feb. 6, prosecutors said. Smith was taken to a hospital where he died a short time later.
Scott fled but was found by police about 10 minutes later a block away, at Fourth and Bryant streets. Witnesses at the homeless shelter identified him as the stabber, police said. Prosecutor Eric Fleming said in court today that Scott allegedly walked into a common area at the shelter and approached the victim, then stabbed him once during some sort of altercation. A security guard at the shelter intervened in the fight, causing Scott to flee, Fleming said. Fleming argued for Scott’s bail to be set at $2 million, citing the seriousness of the crime and a rap sheet dating back to 1968, including multiple prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who is representing Scott, acknowledged his client’s extensive criminal history but said “most of the offenses … none of it rises to the charge he currently faces.” He said the proposed bail was “excessive,” calling the case an “alleged spontaneous confrontation.” Judge Donald Squires ultimately set the bail at $1.5 million, citing the “danger to the community” posed by Scott.
Adachi, who runs the public defender’s office, does not often handle cases himself but said outside of court that his office has gotten a handful of new homicide cases recently and “I was next in line.” The case will return to court on March 7, when a preliminary hearing date will be set.
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