Suspect in Justin Valdez shooting pleads not guilty

Nikhom Thephakaysone pled not guilty to three felony counts including the alleged murder of SF State sophomore Justin Valdez today at his arraignment. He is being detained without bail.

SFPD arrested Thephakaysone, Sept. 24 in connection to a shooting that killed Valdez.  He also faces charges for assault with a deadly weapon and possession of an illegal assault weapon.

According to police, Thephakaysone shot Valdez with a .45 caliber handgun Sept. 23 as he exited a Muni train at Randolph and Bright streets in Ingleside.

Assistant District Attorney Scot Clark presented footage that he claims shows Thephakaysone and Valdez riding the same train together before the incident occurred and at one point even facing each other.

Thephakaysone can also be seen holding a handgun at his side while riding the train and casually wiping his nose with the gun still in his hand without any other passengers noticing, Clark said.

Thephakaysone and Valdez both attended SF State, but police say the two did not know each other. Muni footage also shows there was no interaction between the two on the train the night of the murder, Clark said.

“Because this shooting seems to be random and unprovoked, the defendant should be held without bail as his release would result in great harm to another member of the public,” Clark said during the arraignment.

Thephakaysone is due back in court Nov. 20 at 9 a.m. where a preliminary hearing for the case may be set.

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