Attorney Paul Pfingst argued his client, Thurs Loo John, did not commit a murder when he allegedly shot James Chase, 58, on Sept. 15, 2020 at 1 a.m. on the sand near a lifeguard tower in Ocean Beach.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Daniel Goldstein heard seven witnesses in the preliminary hearing before ruling that John would only stand trial for manslaughter. Three police officers testified.
Goldstein ordered the murder charge be dropped despite an argument against that from Deputy District Attorney Jessica Paugh.
John is free on $100,000 bond and will get a trial date set on July 20. Pfingst served as District Attorney for two terms before he was defeated by Judge Bonnie Dumanis.
Pfingst filed court documents that said Chase had a boxcutter in his hand when he was shot three times. The boxcutter had Chase’s DNA.
Chase, a homeless transient, allegedly said racial slurs to John, who is Asian and mentioned the Ku Klux Klan, according to the documents.
John did not know Chase, whom Pfingst said had a history of violence. Chase had “white power” related tattoos, according to Pfingst’s documents.
Other witnesses testified they were afraid of Chase and wanted to get out of the area. Several said they thought he brandished a knife.
John’s bail was originally set at $1 million when he was arrested Sept. 20, 2020, but it was later reduced to $250,000. Pfingst sought a further bail reduction and another judge set it at $100,000 on April 23, court records show.
John has pleaded not guilty.