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Diaz remains in jail after court hearing

by Cynthia Laird

David Munoz Diaz. Photo: Courtesy SFPD
David Munoz Diaz. Photo: Courtesy SFPD  

Convicted arsonist David Munoz Diaz was ordered held without bail following a hearing Tuesday in San Francisco Superior Court.

Diaz, 28, was arrested March 8 after he was captured on video lighting a homeless person on fire. He has been charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and arson-related charges, according to the San Francisco District Attorney's office.

Diaz appeared in court March 20 and pleaded not guilty to the charges through his attorney, deputy public defender Hein Nguyen.

In addition to ordering Diaz held without bail, Superior Court Judge Braden Woods revoked his felony probation, which stemmed from earlier cases.

Court documents filed March 13 stated that the homeless person's sleeve caught fire and his arm was burned. It is not known how severe the victim's injuries were; sources told the Bay Area Reporter that the person refused medical aid.

Passersby woke up the victim and helped extinguish the fire, the documents said. It is not known where or when the alleged incident occurred, though the court filing states that the victim was sleeping in a doorway.

The DA's office filed the motion to detain him without bail because of Diaz's previous arson conviction.

Last year, Diaz was sentenced to five years probation after a November 2016 incident in which police said Diaz handcuffed and bit a chuck out of another man's scalp while impersonating a cop. He pleaded guilty to false imprisonment in exchange for assault and other counts in the case being dismissed.

Diaz was ordered to comply with a midnight curfew and wear an ankle monitor.

In 2014, Diaz stood trial for the June 2011 death of Freddy Canul-Arguello, 23, in Buena Vista Park. During the trial, Diaz testified that Canul-Arguello had asked to be choked during a sexual encounter and that he'd accidentally killed him.

Jurors acquitted Diaz of second-degree murder but convicted him of involuntary manslaughter and arson, among other charges. He was released from jail in September 2014.

During Diaz's sentencing hearing in that case, Superior Court Judge Donald Sullivan dismissed the arson count. Sullivan said that keeping the count would require Diaz's "lifetime registration as an arsonist," which would "mar his character."

Prosecutor John Rowland objected to the arson count being dismissed.

It was after Diaz's 2016 guilty plea to possessing an incendiary device that he was required to register as an arsonist.

That case stemmed from incidents in 2015 when Diaz was arrested again for allegedly starting fires in the Castro district. He pleaded guilty in August 2016 to possessing an incendiary device and a count of second-degree burglary. He was released that September after being sentenced to a year of mandatory supervision, the arsonist registration, and other terms.

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