A man convicted of murder for the strangulation of a 47-year-old man in San Francisco’s Mission District in 2012 was sentenced in San Francisco Superior Court today to 26 years to life. Roland Pouncy, 44, of San Francisco, was found guilty by a jury on May 9 of the murder of Richard Sprague early on the morning of Feb. 19, 2012. He was sentenced this morning to 26 years after he was arrested later the day of the killing when he was found with Sprague’s debit card, according to prosecutors.
Apparently Sprague and his domestic partner had gone to bed the night before, but around midnight Sprague got up to buy cigarettes and never returned. Around 2:40 a.m. a woman heard cries for help near her home in the 100 block of Julian Avenue, off of 15th Street between Mission and Valencia streets, but she did not immediately notify police about what she had seen through her window. Later, around 6:30 a.m., a passerby spotted Sprague lying on the road and called police, who declared Sprague dead but could not immediately identify him.
Sprague’s domestic partner filed a missing person report later that afternoon and was able to identify Sprague. Around 1:30 p.m., Pouncy was detained for jaywalking at 16th and Mission streets. When asked for an ID, Pouncy gave police his wallet and a bankcard and claimed he had no ID. The bankcard had Richard Sprague’s name and Pouncy was taken into custody.
After serving a warrant to search Sprague’s bank records, police found suspicious transactions the morning of the murder starting at 7:25 a.m., including at a McDonald’s, Dollar Store and a taqueria in the area. Surveillance video from the McDonald’s confirmed Pouncy used the bankcard there that morning. An acquaintance of Pouncy’s told police she had seen Pouncy the day of the murder near 16th and Mission streets and said he had offered to buy her shoes.
When he tried to purchase the shoes, the clerk refused to use the bankcard without an ID or pin number. Outside the store Pouncy apparently showed the woman the card and led her to believe he had killed a man for the card in an alley earlier that night, according to prosecutors. Investigators tracked down surveillance footage showing Pouncy and the woman at the store and the clerk confirmed that he had refused the transaction that day.
Following his death, an examination of Sprague confirmed that he was strangled and that Pouncy’s DNA was on his neck, prosecutors said. In a statement today, District Attorney George Gascon said, “This man was willing to take another life over a debit card. His willingness to murder another man over something so trivial is highly disturbing.”
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