Report calls Frenchman's death murder

October 8, 2009 7:12:17 PM PDT
Three law enforcement agencies have investigated the stabbing death of a French national two years ago in San Francisco. Two say it was probably a suicide, the other says it was murder. Now ABC7 has learned of another report which further muddies the case.

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Hugues de la Plaza's parents Francois and Mireille and their entourage were at the Hall of Justice for a meeting with the police chief Thursday.

It has been more than two years since their son was found dead of stab wounds in his apartment in Hayes Valley.

Although the medical examiner has been unable to determine cause of death, San Francisco police investigators concluded it was probably a suicide. A preliminary report by Los Angeles police homicide detectives came to the same conclusion. (The LAPD investigators were brought in by new San Francisco Police Chief George Gascon to provide a neutral review.)

But French authorities who came to the city last year to investigate at the request of de la Plaza's parents said it had to be murder.

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ABC7 has now learned that there was another review earlier this year commissioned by SFPD's deputy chief of investigations. The review was conducted by former deputy medical examiner Mike Ference, who now works for Marin County.

After Thursday's meeting, ABC7 asked Gascon about its conclusion.

"The Marin County medical examiner in his review of this case has concluded that this case is a homicide," Gascon said.

The de la Plaza's new attorney Bill Fazio wants medical examiner Venus Azar to look at the new review.

"I think when she does, that she too will conclude this is a homicide, and then there will be a full blown investigation," Fazio said.

Francois de la Plaza says he is pleased with Gascon's promise that he will review the entire case.

"If there is something to be followed we continue to do so; this case has always been deemed as a homicide from an investigative point of view," Gascon said.

De la Plaza's friend Melissa Nix has led the campaign to keep this case alive.

"We want a new investigator and we want it be formally classified as a homicide," Nix said.

So now Gascon says he will review the entire case, which includes those four separate reports.

Fazio says Gascon told them that he does not know if the former medical examiner's report was given to the LAPD or to French authorities.

Ferrence says he did it pro-bono as a favor to the SFPD but had no further comment.

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