The preliminary hearing for Antoine Watson, the man suspected of pushing over and killing 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee, began on Tuesday.
Watson is accused of shoving the elderly Thai immigrant to the ground on January 28th, 2021 in San Francisco. Ratanapakdee hit his head and ultimately died from his injuries. Watson was 19 at the time.
San Francisco’s District Attorney Chesa Boudin charged Watson with murder and elder abuse but not a hate crime. In court on Tuesday, Watson pleaded not guilty, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Prosecutors are presenting evidence to San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Darwin, who will decide whether the case will go to trial. Watson’s lawyers intend to challenge the idea he meant to kill the elderly Asian man. They will also question his mental state at the time.
During the hearing, prosecutors say Watson appeared to celebrate after shoving Ratanapakdee, ABC 7 reports. He even returned to take pictures with his cellphone.
When the hearing continued on Wednesday, prosecutors presented a video of the incident which showed Ratanapakdee injuring his head as he is forcefully shoved to the ground. Spectators in court became very emotional over the video, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
A doctor also described how Ratanapakdee ultimately died of his injuries.
Before the hearing Ratanapakdee’s family stated at a rally that they would continue to fight for justice. They say they will be at the courthouse everyday there is a hearing.
“It’s a strong and powerful that makes us raise up our voice and demand justice for Vicha,” Monthanus Ratanapakdee, Vicha’s daughter, said according to CBS News. “The story of my father is not going to be in vain. His memory should be about equal rights for everyone. Asian Americans deserve to be treated equally. That is the promise of the American life.”
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