Judge orders trial for accused killer of ‘Incense Man’ in Ocean Beach
by NEAL PUTNAM
Published - 08/09/18 - 04:27 PM | 761 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Walter (Ras) Riley was known as 'Incense Man' in Ocean Beach.
Walter (Ras) Riley was known as 'Incense Man' in Ocean Beach.
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A judge Wednesday ordered a young man to stand trial for murder in the slaying of the "Incense Man," a well-liked transient in Ocean Beach who was so nicknamed because he sold incense in the area.

Numerous video surveillance cameras from businesses in Ocean Beach were played to San Diego Superior Court Judge Steven Stone during the two-day preliminary hearing of Noah Mitchell Jackson, 20, who is accused of killing Walter "Ras" Riley, 65.

One video was replayed several times that depicted a man lunging down at a seated man on a sidewalk in the 1900 block of Bacon Street at 12:30 a.m. on June 22, 2017.

Jamie Hill identified Jackson and himself in several videos as he ran after Jackson after seeing him lunge toward Riley. Hill described Riley as "a street vendor who sold incense."

"I saw him being punched. He essentially crumpled to the ground. I heard a female voice, saying "he's got a knife!' She screamed it," said Hill.

Hill said he was too far away to see if Riley had been stabbed or just punched. He followed Jackson, who began running on Bacon Street. The video, from different stores, was paused several times as Deputy District Attorney Michael Reilly asked him if Hill could identify an object in Jackson's hand.

"I believe it looks like a knife," said Hill, who added the attacker held the knife as he ran away.

Hill's 911 call was played for Stone and Hill told a police dispatcher that "it looked like he stabbed him."

Hill eventually lost sight of the attacker. "He was running at a very fast rate of speed," said Hill, who said the attacker looked like a young male in a lightly covered sweatshirt with a hoodie.

"I decided to jog back to the victim," said Hill.

The same videos were shown frame by frame to others who knew Jackson and they said it was not him. Under questioning by Jackson's attorney, Eugene Iredale, they agreed with Iredale that the person's photo in some frames was not Jackson because his nose was too long.

Makayla Hashagen, who tearfully entered the courtroom, said she was Jackson's ex-girlfriend and had dated him two years before breaking up with him about eight months ago.

The Ocean Beach woman said Jackson would not talk to her that night on June 21, 2017 and he appeared suicidal, saying "he wanted to jump off Sunset Cliffs." She said "I tried to calm him down" before he left a restaurant.

Caleb Wooldridge, a friend of Jackson's, said the night of the homicide he saw Jackson crying about an impending breakup with his girlfriend. Wooldridge said Jackson told me he thought of killing himself off Sunset Cliffs and described him as intoxicated.

Neither Hashagen or Wooldridge could identify Jackson as the man in the light colored sweatshirt, with both saying his nose was too big in the security photos.

"That's not Noah," said Wooldridge, as he looked at various frames of the security video.

Iredale declared that Jackson was not the man in the security video or that there might have been a second man who was dressed like him that night. Iredale said the object in the assailant's hand looked more like a cell phone than a knife. He urged Stone to dismiss the case.

Reilly argued that some witnesses like Hill did identify him and asked him to order a murder trial, which Stone did.

Jackson didn't say anything in court and was wearing blue jail clothes while handcuffed in a chair. He has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail on $2 million bail.

Reilly said if Jackson is convicted of first-degree murder, he faces a sentence of 26 years to life in prison. A trial date and other future court dates will be set on Aug. 22.

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