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Diaz held for trial on attempted murder charge

by Alex Madison

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

Following a preliminary hearing earlier this month, convicted arsonist David Munoz Diaz will face trial on charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon stemming from an incident in which he was captured on video lighting a homeless person on fire.

Diaz remains in custody in San Francisco County Jail. He also faces two counts of arson of property, possession of an incendiary device, and attempted arson, according to the San Francisco District Attorney's office. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The preliminary hearing was held April 2.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Braden Woods ordered Diaz be held without bail due to his previous arson convictions and revoked his felony probation, which stemmed from earlier cases.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously noted, court documents filed last month stated the homeless person's arm was burnt, but did not specify how severely. It is not known where or when the alleged incident occurred, though the court filing states that the victim was sleeping.

Diaz was still on probation from a November 2016 incident when most recently arrested in which police said Diaz handcuffed and bit a chunk 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. He was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to comply with a midnight curfew and wear an ankle monitor.
As previously reported by the B.A.R. 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.

His next court date is scheduled for May 10, which will be a pretrial conference.

Contact the reporter at a.madison@ebar.com.

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