Suspects in Killing of Gay SF Man Deny Charges
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The two people accused of fatally shooting a gay San Francisco man at Twin Peaks in July have pleaded not guilty.
Fantasy Decuir, 20, of San Francisco, and Lamonte Terrell Mims, 19, of Patterson, California, denied charges including murder and second-degree robbery at their arraignment Monday, August 14 in San Francisco Superior Court.
The charges stem from the July 16 death of Edward French, 71, a longtime location manager for commercials. Officials are reportedly looking into how Mims had been freed in another case just days before French's killing.
According to police, French was in the Twin Peaks lookout area when Decuir and Mims approached him.
"Witnesses reported a single gunshot," police said, and "the suspects ran to a vehicle and fled the scene."
A jogger who was in the area administered CPR to French and police also summoned medical help, but French was pronounced dead shortly after being taken to a hospital.
Police eventually arrested Decuir and Mims in connection with a July 28 incident in which a man and woman were robbed at gunpoint at St. Mary's Cathedral Square on Geary Boulevard. Police investigators soon identified Decuir and Mims as the suspects in French's death.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Swart said in court earlier this month that video shows Decuir was the shooter, and that Mims has admitted to police that he robbed French.
Mims' July Release
Mims had been released from custody in another case in July, just before French was killed.
Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the DA's office, said that case was related to Mims' charges that included being a felon in possession of a firearm. He said that Mims was freed after the city's Pretrial Diversion Project assessed Mims and suggested that he be released "with certain conditions."
Bastian said prosecutors disagreed "with how that assessment was calculated."
The pretrial diversion office hasn't responded to the Bay Area Reporter's calls, but DA's spokesman Max Szabo told NBC Bay Area that there had been "a miscalculation" in Mims' assessment. The station reported that Mims' previous custody records and other factors had been left out of the calculation, and that officials are recalculating his score.
Fantasy Decuir. Photo: Courtesy SFPD
Lorrie French, Edward French's sister, told reporters outside the courtroom Monday that Judge Sharon Reardon, who allowed Mims' release in July, "is as responsible for my brother's death as the people that murdered him. ... My goal is to make sure this will never happen to a family again."
Randy Knox, Mims' attorney in the murder case, told the B.AR., "I can understand the grief and anger that the French family feels" toward Decuir and his client, and he especially understands the family being upset that Mims "got out on the gun case."
But Reardon is "a smart, principled, hard-working judge," said Knox. "She's not a pushover. She's not just going to let somebody out because she feels sorry for him."
The algorithm used to assess Mims is "not perfect in predicting human behavior," said Knox. "Nothing is."
However, he said, it's part of "an effort to try to improve a system that's seriously flawed, and everybody knows it." The current bail system that keeps many poor people in jail "is obviously money-driven," said Knox, who didn't know the nature of Mims' and Decuir's relationship.
Outside the courtroom Monday, Jim Reed, who knew French for over 50 years, called him "a spunky little guy."
Reed said that it was "pure stupidity" that Decuir and Mims "would even think of taking someone's life" for a camera, which they allegedly stole from French. He said the lives of people involved with French and the defendants have been "destroyed because of the stupidity" of the pair's alleged actions.
San Mateo County court documents indicate that as of July 2016, Mims was living in a housing complex on Kirkwood Street, in San Francisco's Hunters Point district.
Nobody appeared to be at the address listed for Mims last Saturday, but a man next door said that Mims had "been a good kid. I don't know what the fuck happened." The man declined to give his name.
Among other charges that Mims has faced since last July, records show that he'd been charged with burglarizing cars in San Mateo and San Francisco counties, and San Francisco prosecutors said that he'd been ordered to stay away from Twin Peaks after "a theft-related incident" there.
The B.A.R. wasn't able to find any records indicating that Decuir has a prior criminal record. Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who's been representing her, declined to comment for this story because another attorney's expected to be assigned to Decuir.
Decuir and Mims are each in custody on $5 million bail. Their next court date is Friday, August 18. A preliminary hearing, when a judge will determine whether there's enough evidence to hold them for trial, is set to start Thursday, August 24.