Man to face homicide charge
by Seth Hemmelgarn
A San Francisco man is expected to face a homicide charge today (Thursday, March 22) in the recent killing of a gay San Francisco man who was left to die on a Mission district sidewalk last month.
Roland Pouncy, 42, had already been charged with a crime in the death of Richard Sprague, 47. In February, he pleaded not guilty in San Francisco Superior Court to a felony count of receiving or possessing stolen property. Sprague's partner has said that Pouncy allegedly had Sprague's ATM card.
The district attorney's office announced Tuesday, March 20 that it would formally file homicide and robbery charges. San Francisco homicide Inspector John Cagney said that Pouncy was booked on the charges Tuesday.
[Updated 3/22/12: Pouncy pleaded not guilty Wednesday, March 21 to felony charges of murder and robbery. His bail has been set at $2 million. His next court date is April 5 to set a date for a preliminary hearing.]
DA spokesman Omid Talai said in a statement Tuesday that the charges are "based on DNA evidence that corroborates [Pouncy's] involvement in these crimes."
Pouncy's arraignment on the new charges is expected this week. Talai said he anticipates that hearing will be Thursday.
Deputy Public Defender Stephen Rosen, who is representing Pouncy, has previously declined to comment on the case, and didn't respond to an interview request Tuesday.
Pouncy is being held without bail in San Francisco County jail.
Sprague was found dead in the 100 block of Julian Avenue, between 15th and 16th streets, Sunday, February 19. Police say that he cried out for help but nobody reported finding him until about 7 a.m., hours after the incident appears to have started.
Dave Nielsen, 59, Sprague's registered domestic partner, has said that Sprague told him that he was going to get cigarettes at about midnight the day he died.
Cagney has said that the attack occurred around 2:30 a.m. Pouncy was arrested later that day.
Citing an examination performed by medical examiner staff at the scene, Cagney has said "preliminary indications" were that the cause of death was strangulation.
It's not clear what Sprague had been doing in the small residential block.
Sprague and Nielsen's home in the city is near 18th and Dolores streets. The place where Sprague's body was found appeared to be outside of an obvious route to buy cigarettes. Nielsen said the nearest place to buy cigarettes was a gas station about halfway between their home and where Sprague's body was found.
In an interview Tuesday, Nielsen said, "It's hard for me to imagine why he was there either," but he said there's an ATM machine near the scene.
He also said the expected charges don't bring him any relief.
"They don't do anything, because actually I've known they were coming for quite a while," based on evidence in the case, he said.
He's said that Sprague was "a wonderful person. Everybody loved him. He was fun and outgoing, and extremely caring."