Man pleads guilty to 1971 killing of SF cop

July 6, 2009 6:49:03 PM PDT
Monday, state prosecutors dropped charges against four men accused of killing a San Francisco police sergeant nearly 40 years ago.

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Five of those charged in connection with the murder of Sgt. John Young thanked their supporters before the preliminary hearing.

The crowd's chants were answered in court. The prosecution dropped all charges against four of the defendants.

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"Basically, the state attorney general has virtually conceded the case," said Defense Attorney Chuck Bourdon.

Most of the men said they felt fine, but former defendant Richard Brown said, "It's a bittersweet victory, but we still have some work to do."

"I'm going to call my wife in a minute and go home as soon as possible," said former defendant Ray Boudreaux.

The lead prosecutor said there was simply not enough evidence to convict them.

"It's not a reflection at all on our feeling that these individuals were somehow less culpable," said Assistant Attorney General Dave Druliner.

In all, eight suspects were arrested more than two years ago for the officer's murder. John Young was killed by a shotgun blast when a group of armed men attacked the Ingleside Police Station in August of 1971. Investigators say they were members of the Black Liberation Army, a militant offshoot of the Black Panther Party.

Charges against one of the defendants were dropped last year. Last week, the suspected shooter Herman Bell pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was put on probation. He's already serving a life sentence for the murder of two New York City cops.

Also on Monday, Anthony Bottom, who's also serving time for those murders, pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter. Only one of the original eight is expected to stand trial. His lawyer says he'll ask the court to dismiss his case as well.

"There's no way that Mr. Torres really after all this time can have a truly fair trial," said Attorney General Bourdon.

The lone defendant Francisco Torres will be back in court August 10th for his preliminary hearing. Meantime, he's out on $600,000 bail.

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