SF hate crimes defendant indicates he wants another evaluation

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday July 19, 2023
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The defendant in a Castro-area hate crime case has indicated he wants another meeting with mental health experts. Photo: Scott Wazlowski
The defendant in a Castro-area hate crime case has indicated he wants another meeting with mental health experts. Photo: Scott Wazlowski

The man who faces trial in a Castro-area hate crime case will have the opportunity for another meeting with mental health experts before it's decided whether he will enter a diversion program in lieu of prosecution.

Muhammed Abdullah, 20, had a court date Wednesday in Department 22 at San Francisco's Hall of Justice, at 850 Bryant Street. Superior Court Judge Brendan P. Conroy presided.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, Abdullah is accused of stealing a rainbow flag and then hitting a man with a "glass object" in the vicinity of 18th and Hartford streets just before noon June 5, according to police. He'd been following the man and another man "aggressively shouting anti-LGBTQ language," the San Francisco Police Department previously stated in the news release.

In addition to hate crimes, Abdullah was also charged with misdemeanor battery, violation of a person's civil rights, and petty theft. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts and remains in custody.

During Abdullah's June arraignment, he made clear his disdain for the LGBTQ community in a statement during court, saying, "what the LGBT community is doing to kids is disrespectful to everyone who stands for God." A San Francisco sheriff's deputy was overheard by a reporter saying Abdullah was "in the tank screaming" for some time before he was called before the judge that day.

At a July 5 hearing, Judge Harry M. Dorfman set a trial date of August 18 pending the completion of an evaluation of Abdullah by a mental health professional.

That meeting had happened by the time of the July 19 hearing, when the issue of whether Abdullah should enter a diversion program was to be decided. But Abdullah might want to meet with them again, and thus the issue will be postponed again.

"They were asking for August 9," Conroy said, referring to the proposed new date for the diversion issue to be decided. "He indicated he wants to talk to them again."

Also, Abdullah was out sick July 19, according to Deputy Public Defender Tehanita Taylor, who is representing him, and thus did not appear at the hearing. Conroy said the defendant is "ordered to appear" August 9, again in Department 22.

Section 1001.36 of the penal code allows people to receive treatment instead of being prosecuted when charged with a crime. At the successful completion of treatment, the charges are dismissed, and the arrest record sealed.

To qualify, a defendant must have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder that played a significant role in the charges. A defendant has to agree to treatment and a qualified mental health expert has to agree that treatment would be effective. The defendant waives their right to a speedy trial when they agree to diversion.

The diversion program is only in cases where the risk of endangering the public is small.

There is a pre-trial hearing for lawyers only on August 1.

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