General Crime

James Mayfield charged with the 1976 killing of 29-year-old artist Jenny Read inside her Potrero Hill home

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A 67-year-old man has been convicted of first-degree murder in San Francisco Superior Court for a cold case from nearly four decades ago, prosecutors said Tuesday. James Mayfield was charged with the 1976 killing of 29-year-old artist Jenny Read, who was raped, tied up and stabbed to death inside her Potrero Hill home, according to the district attorney’s office.

Mayfield was arrested in 2009 at a church where he lived and worked on Third Street in San Francisco’s Bayview District after investigators linked him to the murder case via DNA evidence, prosecutors said. Read was found stabbed 13 times with her arms bound behind her back on May 19, 1976, and authorities determined the crime happened the day before.

Mayfield was not charged with rape because the statute of limitations on that charge had expired, prosecutors said. He had a prior felony conviction for forcible rape in 1968. A jury deliberated for one day before finding Mayfield guilty of first-degree murder, prosecutors said.

He is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 13 and faces a possible life term in state prison. “This defendant took a life in cold blood,” District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement. “Thanks to technological advances and DNA evidence, James Mayfield will spend the rest of his life in prison for the atrocious acts he committed nearly 40 years ago.

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  • I’m very happy to see this low-life get convicted and sentenced to prison. To have killed a young, talented individual like Jenny Read who had so much to offer the world through her art is unconscionable. It’s too bad he didn’t get sentenced to death.

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