Valdez trial postponed after Assistant District Attorney falls ill

The preliminary hearing for the man accused of murdering SF State student Justin Valdez was postponed until Nov. 18, due to Assistant District Attorney John Rowland’s sickness.

Judge Brendan Conroy announced the decision to delay the hearing for Nikhom Thephakaysone, who was charged with shooting 20-year-old SF State student Justin Valdez last fall.

Thephakaysone is accused of shooting Valdez in the back of the head with a .45 caliber handgun as he exited an M-Oceanview Muni train at Randolph and Bright streets in the Ingleside neighborhood around 9:50 p.m. on Sept. 23, 2013, according to a previous Xpress article.

Thephakaysone pleaded not guilty to three felony counts during his arraignment proceeding on Oct. 2, 2013, including to the murder charges of Valdez. He was also charged with assault with a deadly weapon and possession of an illegal assault weapon, according to the Xpress.

SFPD arrested Thephakaysone at his Oceanview home the following day, where they found assault weapons, four knives and $20,000 in cash, the Xpress reported last year.

At his arraignment, Assistant District Attorney Scot Clark presented a Muni surveillance video leading up to the incident. Clark claims Thephakaysone and Valdez rode in the same train with no signs of interaction before the shooting. Additional footage shows Thephakaysone holding a gun while he wiped his nose without passengers noticing.

Valdez was a sophomore at SF State and an advocate for sustainability in addition to being a member of the water polo and Dragon Boating Club on campus. Last year during a press conference SFPD revealed that Thephakaysone was also a SF State student who transferred to SF State in Fall 2008 as a full-time student, and took Open University classes, which are classes open to students where formal admission is not required.

Thephakaysone is currently being detained without bail. The preliminary hearing will presume Nov. 18 at the San Francisco Superior Court.