Prosecution rests in murder trial of Ocean Beach’s Incense Man
by NEAL PUTNAM
Published - 05/26/19 - 08:23 AM | 3138 views | 1 1 comments | 65 65 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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The prosecution rested May 23 in the murder trial of the man suspected of killing Walter (Ras) Riley, who was known as the "Incense Man" in Ocean Beach.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Reilly presented approximately 18 witnesses in the last week in the trial of Noah Mitchell Jackson, 21, who has pleaded not guilty in the stabbing death of Riley, 65.

Riley got his nickname because he sold incense sticks to people at the Ocean Beach Farmers Market and along Newport Avenue. He was fatally stabbed around 12:30 a.m. on June 22, 2017 in the 1900 block of Bacon Street where he had been sleeping.

The defense also began May 23, and defense attorney Eugene Iredale produced a photograph of a newsstand box of the Peninsula Beacon in front of the Ocean Beach Mainstream Association at 1868 Bacon St. On top of the box was a light grey sweatshirt.

The nine man, three woman jury and alternates in San Diego Superior Court were told a police officer discovered the sweatshirt at 8:30 a.m. on June 22, and it was tested for DNA evidence.

Authorities had released surveillance video camera images of a man believed to be the killer and he was wearing a light grey sweatshirt as he was walking in Ocean Beach that night. Some witnesses have identified Jackson as the one in the photo, but Iredale has argued the photo is of someone else.

Mary Beth Sciarretta, a criminalist who works in the police crime lab, testified she swabbed the shirtshirt in three areas where the wearer would be likely to shed DNA. She said her analysis determined there were mixtures of several people's DNA on it.

Sciarretta said Jackson was excluded as producing the DNA on the sweatshirt. She said DNA evidence showed it was worn by a woman.

"To the DNA samples I tested, he was excluded," said Sciarretta to Iredale. 

Sciarretta said she examined the red sweatshirt worn by Riley that night and determined it was unlikely to produce any DNA from the killer due to the large presence of blood.

A prosecution witness testified that Jackson reportedly said that he stabbed Riley because the man had spit on his sister.

Iredale presented Jackson's three sisters and asked them if they knew Riley and if he or someone had spit on them. They all said they had never seen Riley before and that no one had spit on them.

Witnesses testified last week that Jackson's girlfriend broke up with earlier that night and he became depressed, possibly suicidal.

Caleb Wooldridge testified Jackson got into a fight with someone on Orchard Avenue. Jackson also talked of harming himself and crying, said Wooldridge.

Iredale has not said if Jackson will testify. He has pleaded not guilty.

Judge Michael Groch told jurors they were "ahead of schedule" and they might begin deliberations sooner than anticipated. Groch said jurors may start deliberations on May 29 after the Memorial Day holiday.

Jackson remains in jail on $2 million bail.

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Robert Burns
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May 27, 2019
With the video evidence and repeated confessions/admissions, DNA evidence isn't needed. The alleged spitting might create reasonable doubt as to murder in favor of voluntary manslaughter (intentional homicide in the heat of passion). I've never seen Incense Man in such a toxic state and thus wonder if he was provoked.
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