Judge recommends SF attack suspect wear ankle monitor while out of jail

ByJobina Fortson via KGO logo
Friday, August 16, 2019
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The man accused of attacking a woman outside her San Francisco apartment building will remain out of jail despite concern for public safety.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- James Austin Vincent, the man accused of attacking a woman as she tried to enter her San Francisco condo building, was not present at a hearing for his case on Friday. Judge Christine Van Aken waived his appearance.

Vincent's case has received a great deal of public criticism since his release, but Judge Aken made it clear in court that she will not let public opinion impact her decision. Friday, she ordered Vincent to get an ankle monitor.

VIDEO: Woman attacked in front of home by man believed to be homeless

Judge Aken said in court Friday that public safety is her primary concern, but does not believe incarceration is the answer for someone with mental health and substance abuse issues.

At the time of the alleged attack, Vincent was homeless. He is now being housed with Nova Transitional Housing in San Francisco. According to the court, Vincent is following his release conditions.

Judge Aken also said Friday that she had not seen the video of the attack at the time of Vincent's arraignment.

"The release algorithm indicated that this was a no release type of situation and we argued against the release of this defendant for a variety of reasons," District attorney's office spokesperson Maz Szabo said. "We believe that public safety demands that he should be in a place that's in the best interest in public safety."

"He's receiving that treatment and he's a model client in assertive case management," deputy public defender Saleem Belbahri, said. "That's the decision the court made to place him on assertive case management. At this point, my concern is Mr. Vincent and I'm going to keep helping him and he's going to keep doing well."

Judge Aken has scheduled for both parties to come back to court on Monday to get an update on Vincent, she has also waived his appearance for that court date.

Kosarian's building is right next to the site of the Embarcadero Safe Navigation Center. She's concerned things might be worse if it is built. The group "Safe Embarcadero for All" is suing San Francisco to block it.

The San Francisco Police Officers Association is calling for the judge to be reassigned to traffic court. The organization says Judge Christine Van Aken's decision puts the victim at risk.

In a statement, the SFPOA says: "Van Aken should not be allowed to preside over any criminal cases. She may have been a reasonably competent civil attorney but she is a catastrophe of a criminal judge."

Governor Newsom spoke briefly about the incident during a stop in San Francisco yesterday:

"People say, sometimes they are just flippantly dealt with and not seriously dealt with. And people are back out on the streets, potentially able to commit the crime again," said Newsom.