Nikhom Thephakaysone Charged in Random Murder of Justin Valdez, S.F. State Student

Brian Rinker
District Attorney George Gascón announced Nikhom Thephakaysone will be charged with murder for the killing of SF State student Justin Valdez.

Nikhom Thephakaysone will be charged with murder for the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Justin Valdez, a sophomore at San Francisco State University, the District Attorney announced Friday afternoon.

Thephakaysone appeared in court this afternoon where he was appointed a public defender. His arraignment was continued to Tuesday.

On Monday, Valdez boarded the M train at 19th and Holloway streets, right in front of SF State at about 9:40 p.m -- and Thephakaysone boarded the train right behind Valdez, according to the DA.

As the victim attempted to exit the train at the intersection of Randolph and Bright streets, Thephakaysone allegedly pulled out a .45-caliber pistol, pointed it at the back of Valdez and fired a single, fatal shot. The bullet tore through the victim's back, piercing his left lung and left heart ventricle, lodging in the soft tissue of his skin.

Valdez can be heard on the video captured by Muni cameras crying for help before he died.

Thephakaysone got off the bus and walked home.

He was arrested the next day and booked on murder charges; police later found three weapons at the suspect's home, including a pistol and two semi-automatic rifles. One of the rifles had a pistol grip, which is an illegal modification of the stock, prosecutors said. They also discovered $20,000 in cash.

Thumbnail image for justin_valdez.jpg
Justin Valdez was shot to death while riding Muni
"This is a wanton killing. There was absolutely no reason for this killing other than pure violence," District Attorney George Gascón said outside the courthouse speaking to a throng of reporters. "This is a cold and calculated murder. This individual went out hunting that night and unfortunately Mr. Valdez was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

The DA's office is charging Thephakaysone with one count of murder with the aggravated circumstance of using a hand gun and assault for an earlier incident where the suspect reportedly pressed his gun against a person's back. The person felt the gun and jumped on Muni. Gascón said that the suspect didn't have the courage yet kill the first victim, who waited until he got home before calling the police.

Thephakaysone is also being charged with possession of an illegal assault rifle, which was found when police searched his home.

Gascón said the video evidence indicated that Thephakaysone was out to kill somebody -- the suspect had tapped his gun on the window of a Thai restaurant window earlier in the night, the DA said. The people inside immediately called 911.

All the incidents occurred in the SF State vicinity. Thephakaysone was also an SF State student, attending classes sporadically since 2008.



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13 comments
mond_45
mond_45

This is a very extreme case, but a disturbing trend is emerging where people are not paying attention to their surroundings. Imagine if this murder had taken place in a location where video cameras were not present. The prosecution would have a horrible time proving who did it given that everyone is too busy with their phones to notice that there's a murder taking place.

http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2013/10/15/

Eric Jenkinson
Eric Jenkinson

This sick piece of excrement deserves the death penalty. That could be your son or daughter. This guy did not care about nothen. Now ......................he will be a pain to the system for the rest of his life. Cost of food, shelter, medical bills etc...........come on...wake up.

Alan Cordova
Alan Cordova

Awful awful, hope this person rots in prison as well.

Stu Smith
Stu Smith

so fucked up, I hope they give the punk life without a chance of parole...

Dave Carreon
Dave Carreon

They should torture the killer. Straight up, people kill knowing the worst that'll happen is spending their life in a cell, w/ free food, shelter, medical care.

Josh Campbell
Josh Campbell

My question is: If there was a reported incident of a gunman in the area (early that day/eve), why was the school not notified? A simple alert sent to the students (which is a regular emergency system that is ALREADY in place) could have saved this boys life.

Tony Ayala
Tony Ayala

What a loser, throw the book at him!

Emma Pöe
Emma Pöe

I'm increasingly afraid to go out into the city, the random violence seems to be escalating.

Julie Goodenough
Julie Goodenough

Appalling and scary! My daughter lives not far from where it happened.

plusonezsoultatoo
plusonezsoultatoo

@Eric Jenkinson True... I agree. Did u hear that he pled not guilty in court?

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