SF Outer Sunset house explosion suspect pleads not guilty to new murder charge

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Thursday, June 22, 2023
SF home explosion suspect pleads not guilty to new murder charge
The man accused of causing a deadly home explosion in San Francisco's Outer Sunset pleaded not guilty to a new murder charge in court on Wednesday.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The man accused of causing a deadly home explosion in San Francisco's Outer Sunset returned to court Wednesday to answer to a new charge -- murder.

Darron Price, the 53-year-old suspect, appeared in court, quiet and reserved. After he was charged with murder, he pleaded not guilty.

Price is accused of causing the explosion that destroyed the home on Noriega Street in February.

Previously, he was charged with involuntary manslaughter and released on bail because the judge said Price was not an immediate threat to the community.

But now, he's back in jail. After court on Wednesday, we heard from his attorney.

VIDEO: SF home explosion neighbor recalls suspect bringing in 'heavy industrial equipment'

A neighbor who lived next door to the San Francisco Outer Sunset house that exploded recalls a few red flags looking back.

"We strongly believe in Mr. Price's innocence. We believe that he should be out of custody. There's been no evidence that he's violated any of the terms or conditions in his release. I do not believe he poses any danger to the public. We are going to be asking for him to be released tomorrow," said Sierra Villaran, Price's attorney.

Months after that explosion, you can still see what's left of the Outer Sunset home on 22nd Avenue that Price lived in. Nearby homes are still being repaired.

Price's 51-year-old wife Rita was killed in the explosion. Her caretaker was severely hurt. Price's two teen kids were not home at the time.

Prosecutors say the explosion was caused by an illegal hash oil operation.

Among the charges price faces: murder, manufacturing a controlled substance and elder abuse. He also faces four counts of reckless burning and two counts of child endangerment.

EXCLUSIVE: SF explosion victim describes escaping burning home, working for suspect

We talked to Price's neighbor, Jack Noriega, about the new murder charge. Noriega's home was badly damaged during the blast that could be heard blocks away.

He says he's not surprised by the added murder charge that price now faces.

"He did kill his wife. He did hurt a lot of innocent people on that block. My roommate, my dog walked right in front of that house 16 minutes before it exploded. And Rosa, the mail lady, when the house exploded is usually the time that she delivers the mail there on the block. Luckily, she wasn't working that day," said Noriega.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Perkins did not comment and his office offered no information about the new murder charge.

As for Price's attorney, "I think the way this process is unfolding is confusing and that is not clear. I think it's up to the government to clarify that and that hasn't been done yet," said Villaran.

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