Clues sought after former SF public defender slain at home

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- A prominent Bay Area lawyer who had worked in the city's public defender's office for nearly 30 years has been identified as the victim in a fatal stabbing that occurred Friday morning in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood.

Friends confirmed to KTVU that Marla Zamora, 65, was slain during the incident, which occurred in the 400 block of Arkansas Street. Police have not yet publicly identified the victim.

At least one person was in police custody in connection with the incident. But police have not identified the suspect and have not yet released a mug shot. According to reports, the man found inside the home was covered in blood.

Police responded to a report of a stabbing on of Arkansas Street shortly before 11 a.m., according to police spokeswoman Officer Grace Gatpandan.

Upon arrival, officers located a female suffering from stab wounds. She was pronounced dead at the scene, Gatpandan said. A motive for the slaying was not immediately clear.

Officers were able to detain one person, according to Gatpandan. Currently, there are no outstanding suspects and there is no  threat to the community, Gatpandan said. Police have not yet said what the suspect's relationship to Zamora was or how they knew each other.

Zamora had worked as a lawyer in the public defender's office for nearly 30 years.  According to her LinkedIn page, she opened her own practice in April 2015. She retired in 2007 and went into private practice the following year.

Zamora came out of retirement to help defend Edwin Ramos, a gang member convicted in 2012 of killing Tony Bologna and his sons, Michael and Matthew, as they drove home from a family gathering on a Sunday afternoon in 2008. The case garnered national headlines because the killing resulted from a case of mistaken identity.

Zamora worked with Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who said she would be missed.

"For this to happen to her is just unbelievable," he said. "And we're in shock. Marla never shied away from a tough case and over her career she handled a lot of really hard cases." 

Friends told KTVU that Zamora knew the suspect responsible for the attack but that it was not linked to any of her previous cases. 

Neighbors said it appeared she lived alone and that she was often seen walking her dog in the neighborhood.

"She was very outgoing and very excitable," resident Richard Shapiro said. "I know she loved her career."

Flowers were left outside her home as law enforcement officers combed the scene for clues. Many investigators said they knew Zamora personally.

Said Adachi: "She had a heart of gold. She really exemplified what a public defender should be. She fought for her clients and was compassionate to a fault."

She is survived by a daughter, a brother, sister and mother. Funeral arrangements were pending.

KTVU reporter Amber Lee contributed to this report.