Lawyer and Intern Charged With Robbery and Murder After Celebration At Bar

Screen-Shot-2015-09-15-at-5.42.09-PMThere is a tragic but interesting criminal case set for trial in San Francisco involving a tenants rights attorney and a claim of self-defense during a robbery. Eviction Defense Collaborative staff attorney Carlos Argueta, 31, and former intern (and Swiss native who lives in London) Pascal Krummenacher, 21, are charged with murder after they alleged were robbed outside a bar where they were celebrating the end of Krummenacher’s internship. Argueta is accused of stabbing to death James Thomas, 61. There is a videotape in the case reviewed by the Examiner.

The two men say that they were leaving the bar on September 3rd and Krummenacher was wearing a backpack while Argueta was wearing a messenger bag. Prosecutors say that they two men were stumbling drunk and even threw up in the bar.

The defense says that four men then set upon them and knocked off Krummenacher’s glasses and shoved Argueta against a car and hitting him with some type of weapon. Krummenacher then broke loose with the messenger bag while the four men are seen surrounding Arguetta. The videotape reportedly shows the attacking men armed with a bat, a cane and a skateboard. At some point, Arguetta stabs Thomas twice.

According to prosecutors, the scene was quite different. They say that “Krummenacher saw Thomas pushing a shopping cart with a messenger bag that he mistakenly thought was Argueta’s missing bag and took it…Thomas took the bag back, but Argueta then took the bag again, gave it to Krummenacher and allegedly stabbed Thomas twice during a struggle.” They further maintain that the video shows “Argueta stick the older man with a knife. The man later identified as Thomas drips blood on the sidewalk, stumbles and falls over.” After they were surrounded by an angry crowd, prosecutors say that “a drunken Krummenacher hopped on a BART train, passed out and woke up at the end of the line.”

The common law does not allow the use of force calculated to cause serious bodily injury or death in protection of property. In famous cases like Bird v. Holbrook, 4 Bing. 628, 130 Eng. Rep. 911 (1825), courts have ruled that “[n]o man can do indirectly that which he is forbidden to do directly.” Not only are such devices viewed as immoral (because human life is more valuable than property), but dangerous because such devices cannot tell the difference between friend and foe. The case however also has been cited for the long-standing rule that no property is viewed as more valuable than a human life. That does not mean you cannot take steps to protect your property and a case of protection of property can become protection of self (with the right to use higher levels of force) when the suspect resists or attacks.

Prosecutors see this case as exceeding any justified self-defense. They apparently believe that the messenger bag did not belong to Arguetta and have charged the two defendants with robbery and possession of stolen property as well as the murder of Thomas. Reports state that the video shows Argueta walking alongside the alleged assailants but no longer holding his bag and, in the next video clip, Krummenacher is seen holding a messenger bag.

If the initial violence was due to the bag, it would appear a mistaken defense of property with force calculated to cause serious bodily injury or death. That is prohibited under the common law and can be litigated as a tort of battery. It obviously can also be a crime. however, despite the videotape, there remains room for the defense to claim that confrontation quickly escalated from defense of property to defense of self. There were weapons used on both sides and rivaling claims of self-defense.

Argueta remains in jail but Krummenacher posted on a $1 million bail.

61 thoughts on “Lawyer and Intern Charged With Robbery and Murder After Celebration At Bar”

  1. @ TinEar

    The Perusader is a good ‘house’ gun because it has a shorter barrel. I also have a Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun that I use for goose and wild fowl hunting. Had that one since the 1970’s and it is a great gun, but the barrel is long and not as versatile in the house or a hallway.

    There really isn’t anything more persuasive that says “get out of my house!!!” as the sound of a shell being chambered into a 12 gauge shot gun. Ka CHUNK!

  2. DBQ: Mossberg “Persuader”? That’s funny! It reminds me of an NRA gun safety course I took many, many years ago. The instructor advised that if you buy a gun for home defense, do not choose one with a name like Avenger or Predator. Instead, choose one named Defender or some such. He said that if you have the misfortune of living in a place like San Francisco, and a psycho bursts into your home at 3:00 a.m. carrying a bloody hatchet, and you shoot him to defend your family, it will be YOU hauled before a grand jury, and the prosecutor will most assuredly use as evidence of your “guilty mind” that you had a gun with a non-PC, insensitive-to-criminals name. So “Persuader”….that should do it….just hoping to persuade the gentleman to leave my house…..feet on the floor or feet first….his choice.

  3. @ Spinelli

    Yes. It is really just stuff and mostly things that can be replaced unlike your life or health.

    Don’t carry expensive items. If you have photos that you consider irreplaceable make copies and carry those. Don’t carry items that can reveal too many things about you. Do NOT carry your Social Security card for instance. If stolen cancel the credit cards. Contact the DMV to get a re issued/new license. Call all of your financial institutions. If you carry a gun and it gets taken, immediately notify the authorities with the make model and serial number.

    It is just money and stuff. Buy a new bag. Get some new jewelry. You SHOULD be insured for losses in many cases. Check with your home owner’s insurance. Better yet…..stay away from bad neighborhoods, seedy bars and keep out of danger as best you can.

    Although, I must say I would give a pretty good fight to not be relieved, by some mugger, of some of my jewelry that has sentimental value. My Grandmother’s rings. My Mother’s topaz earrings. Those are family heirlooms and cannot be replaced. I wouldn’t die over them though.

    Robber in my house…..that’s another story. Thank you Mossberg 500 Persuader.

  4. DBQ, When I worked for the DA’s office in KC we had a rash of purse snatching cases. I went to senior centers in the city giving talks about how to hold your purse, how to be aware of your surroundings, etc. But, the point I would hammer was DO NOT FIGHT FOR YOUR PURSE, let it go, you will only get hurt or killed trying to hold onto your purse. most of the women got that. But, some of them were old school and I knew if some thug tried to take her purse she was not going to let it go.

  5. The first encounter I had w/ alan “The Cincinnati Kid” tiger he claimed to be an attorney. I made the comment that many criminal attorneys handle plaintiff personal injury cases. For some reason, this alleged attorney from the Empire state went postal on me, calling me a gofer, third stringer, etc. From that first encounter it was OBVIOUS this guy knew little about the law biz, at least as far as the last 30-40 Maybe his experience predates the LBJ Administration? Now he’s claiming guardian ad litem are not appointed in civil tort cases. The more he speaks, the more he shows his ignorance. Anyway, I had pretty much ignored this angry person until I caught him w/ a tell, claiming to be a professional poker player in AC. He ridiculed all other types of gambling, scoffed @ my playing craps and blackjack, and dissembled about making enough money playing poker to purchase a condo near the ocean. He knows little about what REAL attorneys do, knows NOTHING of what PI’s do, and gave a line of BS about his poker playing.

    Since I called him on his poker fantasy, the Cincinnati Kid has been gunning for me. And, I see he has a peanut gallery. Since both are anonymous, or should I say anony, they could be the same sad sack. I’m the last person you want to try and BS. I obviously stuck a nerve. I do that for a living. I have made a good living as a PI. I spend winters @ the beach in San Diego. But, I am not a professional poker player. LOL!

  6. First….don’t get so blind drunk that you are puking in the bar and on the streets. It impairs your judgment and makes you a target for criminals and low lives. Not to mention it is really really unattractive.

    Second……don’t go drinking and get sh*t faced drunk in a “notorious” seedy crime ridden known to be dangerous area. Evidence of already impaired judgement that had nothing to do with being drunk and more with being a naive dope who wouldn’t recognize danger if it slapped him in the face and then it is really to late to recognize it…..because now you are ham hockers deep in danger.

    Third… is just stuff. If someone wants to steal it…let them. Especially when you are outnumbered, drunk and stupid. Go back inside the bar where there are at lease some other people who might help you. Although…..barfing all over them previously might not dispose them to be inclined to be helpful to you.

  7. at 12:35 am, somebody wrote, “An auspicious start to a law career.”

    perhaps the subject of the quote might even make it as far as a second-string assistant gofer.
    unfortunately, the person who makes the most comments on this site remains, and always will be, a third-stringer. here’s a typical quote from the one who brags several times each week about his experience in law:
    ” … in many states, any personal injury lawsuit automatically has a guardian ad litem appointed to make sure the kid is protected from bad parents.”

    ancient adages:
    1 “nobody lies like a cop!”
    2 “actions speak louder than words!”
    3 “those who talk the most have the least to say!”

  8. Nick, presuming to know what others think and feel: “Some here think he had it coming. “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon!””


    Again: Nick says, “Some here think he had it coming. ” (Nick believes that he knows what others think and feel, it would seem.)

    Who, Nick?

  9. Was he “attacked” because he stole the messenger bag? And if so, would any of this happened if he had given the bag back?

  10. In the same Harris County, Deputy Goforth was shot 15 times IN THE BACK. That didn’t occur 7 years ago, that occurred last month. Some here think he had it coming. “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon!”

  11. Can’t shoot over property unless you’re Joe Horn and you’re in TX


    Joe Horn, 61, spotted two burglars breaking into his next-door neighbor’s home in Pasadena,Texas. He called 911 to summon police to the scene. While on the phone with emergency dispatch, Horn stated that he had the right to use deadly force to defend property, referring to a law (Texas Penal Code §§ 9.41, 9.42, and 9.43) which justified the use of deadly force to protect Horn’s home. Horn exited his home with his shotgun, while the 911 operator tried to dissuade him from that action. On the 911 tape, he is heard confronting the suspects, saying, “Move, and you’re dead”, immediately followed by the sound of a shotgun blast, followed by two more] Following the shootings Mr. Horn told the 911 operator, “They came in the front yard with me, man, I had no choice!”

    On June 30, 2008 a Harris County grand jury cleared Horn by issuing a no bill after two weeks of testimony.

    He shot them in the back.

  12. The attorney was attacked by FOUR men carrying “a bat, a cane and a skateboard.” Seems to me that he had a right to use deadly force to defend himself. It’s not like they were merely armed with golf clubs [snarc].

  13. A person has a right to self defense. Shouldn’t affect his license either. Innocent u til proven guilty.

    He was outnumbered and the guy was waving a skateboard? Aquit.

  14. Wayne the Peter has a solution for an event such as this. If they all were armed to the teeth, why then they would all be dead and there would be nothing to sort out.

  15. Forget the defense of property apCray. This is defense of self. If there were more selfies they would not be in this predicament.

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