Murder, car burning suspect's arraignment postponed

January 27, 2011 2:00:02 PM PST
A 23-year-old Sacramento woman was strangled and her body was driven to San Francisco where it was set ablaze early Monday, San Francisco prosecutors said Thursday.

Assistant District Attorney David Merin told San Francisco Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ross this morning that 29-year-old Almon Johnson is believed to have murdered Vanessa Herrera some time between Sunday and Monday.

Merin said Johnson strangled Herrera, drove her to San Francisco, and then set her car on fire.

Herrera's body was found burned inside her gray, two-door Pontiac at about 3:30 a.m. Monday outside a home in the 400 block of Rose Street in the city's Lower Haight neighborhood.

The suspect, also known as Armone Johnson according to court records, was scheduled to be arraigned on murder and arson charges today, but his attorney said he was being held in a hospital jail facility and unable to appear.

"He's too ill to come to court," Deputy Public Defender Peter Fitzpatrick told the judge.

Arraignment and plea entry was postponed until Monday, but Ross agreed at Merin's request to set bail at $10 million.

According to Merin, Johnson had been on parole for theft at the time of the crime, and had prior convictions for robbery.

Ross also ordered a mental health evaluation of Johnson.

Police have said the relationship between Herrera and Johnson, and the motive for the killing, are still under investigation.

Johnson is believed to have ties to both Sacramento and San Francisco, according to police.

He was arrested Monday night in downtown San Francisco, police said.


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