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San Francisco Criminal Defense Blog

Man Charged with Murder and Elder Abuse of Newspaper Vendor Pleads Not Guilty

In January of this year, a 77-year-old newspaper vendor was attacked; he succumbed to his injuries more than three weeks later at a San Francisco area hospital.  Now, 36-year-old Mark Anthony Cassell has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and elder abuse.

The victim, Dallas Ayers, was a vendor for the San Francisco Chronicle.  He was attacked outside the Montgomery BART station on January 28 when Cassell allegedly picked the elderly man up and threw him to the ground.  Cassell’s defense attorney, Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof, maintains that Cassell should not be charged with murder because it was an accidental death.

Maloof said in court that Cassell, according to witnesses, picked up the older man in a joking manner, and then accidentally dropped him.  A news report at the San Francisco Appeal stated that the victim was 5’11” tall, and that Cassell is 6’4″ tall.  Harry Dorfman, Assistant D.A., called the case “a random assault on the street” by a larger, younger man.  Ayers suffered a hip fracture among other injuries; his death was ruled a homicide by the Medical Examiners office.

The district attorney requested a $1 million bail for Cassell, while Maloof requested a lower bail at $500,000.  Judge Monica Wiley ordered Cassell to be held on a $500,000 bail.  Initially, prosecutors did not file murder charges against the defendant; at the time there was a bench warrant out for the arrest of Cassell on petty theft and methamphetamine possession charges.  After receiving more evidence from police, the district attorney’s office proceeded with filing murder charges.

Ayers was on break from the newspaper stand at the BART station when he was attacked, and had worked in his profession for approximately 30 years.  District Attorney George Gascon described Ayers as a hard-working elderly man who was well known by Montgomery Bart and Muni Station commuters.

The penalties for murder in the state of California are severe, as all San Francisco murder defense lawyers know.  The penalties an individual is subject to will depend on a number of factors, including prior criminal record and whether the person is charged with first- or second-degree murder, or capital murder.  The penalty for first-degree murder is 25 years to life in prison; depending on whether the individual committed the crime due to the victim’s gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation, religion or disability, he or she could face a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

If you have been charged with murder it is critical that you take action to protect your own future, freedom, and reputation.  Consult with an experienced San Francisco criminal defense attorney who will provide the legal guidance and effective defense essential to a good outcome.

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