Family of Vallejo murder victim blames judge

- The family of a Vallejo man who was killed in an unprovoked attack in San Francisco says his killer never should have been let out of jail and onto the streets.

They are blaming a judge for the release of 41 year old Randall Marshall, who was arrested twice for violent crimes in the month leading up to the death of Raymond Best.

"He was always such a happy person always singing, he would give you anything- if it was the shirt off his back," said Lois Best of her son Raymond. KTVU's Tara Moriarty spoke exclusively with her and her daughter Janet Best via skype.

Raymond Best, a 50 year old father of two girls, died after being hit over the head with a gin bottle on Geary Street August 19th.

Police say it was an unwarranted attack by a 41 year old San Francisco man named Randall Marshall.

"You cannot imagine the frustration, the anger that something like this could happen that could have been prevented," said Lois.

The family believes Best's killing would have been avoided it. Just four days before the attack, Marshall was arrested for trying to break into an apartment on the 2900 block of Mission Street. The burglary was thwarted by a woman who slammed the door on him and called 911.

A month earlier, authorities say Marshall attacked a pizza shop owner on 6th Street near Market.

"He pulled a screwdriver and he said, 'You're going to die tonight!' He came swinging at me," recalled Adel Awadalla, who runs the Pizzeria Supremo Taliana.

Awadalla says Marshall tried to get a free slice of pizza and when Awadalla refused to give it to him, Marshall lunged at him, hitting Awadalla in the eye, which fractured his cheekbone. Surveillance video shows Marshall then retrieved an object, which later turned out to be a screwdriver, and chased after Awadalla with it.

After Marshall's arrest, the judge released him on his own recognizance and made a recommendation for behavioral court, which offers in-jail services and treatment to mentally ill offenders.

After the attempted burglary, Diane Northway, a visiting judge from Santa Clara County released Marshall again, overriding the request from the SFDA prosecutor and the Pretrial Diversion Program's recommendation that Marshall remain in jail.

"It's pretty outrageous for something like this to happen with a red flag from the the pretrial diversion and the prosecutor saying, 'Hey saying wait, consider this person has a pattern of violent behavior and you're gonna release him?'" said Bill Fazio, an attorney and former SFDA prosecutor.

"Why even have a point system [by pretrial diversion] if it's not going to be used?" said Janet Best, Raymond's sister. "I mean, that just really makes me angry!"

Raymond's mother has a message for Judge Northway: "I would say what were you thinking? You have no regard for any life? This is what you're supposed to be doing, protecting our citizens!"

While Fazio and others agree that judges must be held accountable for their decisions, he hpoes the spotlight on judges like Northway doesn't backfire, causing them to locking up offenders when unnecessarily.

Awadalla told KTVU he can't believe Marshall was released from jail so quickly. "I think the whole system needs to be overhauled judicail system, whole thing honestly," said Awadalla. "I think it's all screwed up."

"I'm angry. I'm still very, very angry," said Pam Alden, another sister of Raymond's. "I don't understand how a violent criminal can be out on the streets after doing something, I mean, this could have been prevented. My brother didn't have to die."

The Bests say they hope that by sharing their story, it will lead to change and that no other family will have to suffer like theirs.

On July 16th, 71 year old movie location scout Edward French was shot and killed when police say a pair of thieves stole his camera at the Twin Peaks lookout.

Just five days earlier, one of the suspects in that case, Lamonte Mims, was released from jail on a gun charge. Court and law enforcement officials conceded that Mims should not have been released from jail based on his criminal record. Officials with the Pretrial Diversion Program admitted that Mims' public safety accessment score, was tabulated incorrectly. The SFDA prosector also never objected to Mims' release and the judge ultimately agreed to release Mims. 

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