Suspects in deadly construction worker stabbing plead not guilty

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Suspects charged in two stabbings, one fatal, that allegedly occurred after they were prevented from using portable restrooms pleaded not guilty Thursday morning in San Francisco Superior Court.

Lizette Maria Cauich, 23, faces a murder charge in the fatal stabbing last Friday of construction worker Mitzi Campbell, 58, in the city's South of Market neighborhood.

Campbell, a San Francisco resident who was working as a flagger controlling traffic at a construction site on Shipley Street, an alley between Harrison and Folsom streets, was stabbed shortly after 9 a.m.

Prosecutors said Campbell had escorted Cauich and her co-defendant, Oscar Mendez, 43, off the site after an argument over whether the two could use a restroom there.

When she didn't come back right away, her co-workers went looking for her and found her stabbed. The construction workers followed Mendez and Cauich to the area of Fifth and Folsom streets, where they were arrested, according to police.

Campbell was taken to a hospital, but died of her injuries a short time later. Cauich and Mendez are also alleged to have both stabbed a man on May 29, less than two weeks before Campbell's death, after he refused to let them use a portable restroom in a parking lot at Eddy and Taylor streets in the Tenderloin neighborhood around 1:30 p.m.

Assistant District Attorney John Rowland on Tuesday said Cauich pulled two knives on the man after he refused, but he was able to fend her off with a garbage can lid.

Cauich, Mendez and a third suspect who has not yet been identified then allegedly chased the man through the Tenderloin as he tried to reach the neighborhood police station, Rowland said.

When they caught him, Cauich is alleged to have stabbed the man twice in the groin, and Mendez once in the back, while Cauich shouted "Die Now!" according to Rowland.

The victim in that case suffered life-threatening injuries but is expected to recover, prosecutors said.

Cauich faces charges including murder, attempted murder, mayhem, assault with force likely to commit great bodily injury, attempted robbery and battery with serious bodily injury.

Mendez's charges include attempted murder, mayhem, assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, battery with serious injury, carrying a dirk or dagger, possession of a controlled substance, receiving or buying stolen property and giving false information to a police officer. He
also has previous felony warrants.

Both suspects remain in custody, with bail set at $10 million for Cauich and $5 million for Mendez.