Man accused of pot club shooting may go free

February 26, 2009 12:34:02 PM PST
One of two men accused in the 2008 fatal shooting of a San Francisco man outside a Mission district pot club is expected to go free today, after a criminal grand jury earlier this week failed to return a murder indictment against him.

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San Francisco prosecutors formally dismissed murder charges this morning against Julius Hughes, 25, of Brentwood, after the grand jury's decision on Tuesday.

Hughes and another man, Ijeoma Ogbuagu, 21, of San Francisco, had both been charged in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Royshawn Holden, of San Francisco, outside the Mr. Nice Guy marijuana dispensary, at the corner of Valencia Street and Duboce Avenue, on the night of Sept. 14.

Ogbuagu was arrested Sept. 23 in Burlingame. Hughes was arrested Dec. 5 at his home in Brentwood.

"We don't have sufficient evidence at this time to hold Mr. Hughes," Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia told Superior Court Judge Donna Little today.

Police have said Holden, who had a medical marijuana card, and a close friend of his had pooled $23 that night and had driven in Holden's white Lexus to the club to buy marijuana.

Police said they believed Ogbuagu and Hughes had been watching both men, and allegedly robbed them at gunpoint of the marijuana, their cell phones and $2 cash, and then fatally shot Holden.

Holden's friend fled but later returned to the scene and spoke with police.

"The identification he gave is so vague that it would fit almost half the African-American population in the country, let alone San Francisco," Hughes' attorney V. Roy Lefcourt said after the hearing.

Lefcourt said his client would be released from jail today.

In a statement released Wednesday, the district attorney's office stated that it had brought the Hughes case to a grand jury in order "to fully and fairly evaluate the strength of the witness identification of co-defendant Hughes."

"The charges against the other co-defendant Ogbuagu still stand and this defendant is being prosecuted," the statement read.

Ogbuagu is still in custody and awaiting trial March 9 on one count of murder and two counts of robbery. A San Francisco Superior Court judge held him to answer on the charges on Oct. 22, at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing.

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