Cabbie stabbing suspect pleads not guilty 

A 26-year-old Pittsburg man pleaded not guilty to the near-fatal stabbing of a taxi driver near the city's Castro District on Monday even after investigators found his cell phone in the cab.

Bruce Lee Griffin was charged with repeatedly stabbing 53-year-old cab driver Balinder Singh in the chest and head before making off with his money at about 7 p.m. Monday in the 200 block of States Street.

Griffin was silent and emotionless at his arraignment Friday. Superior Court Judge Donald Mitchell ordered him held on $5 million bail and to stay away from Balinder and any other taxi driver if he is released on bail. The public defender’s office represented him Friday and he will be back in court next week.

Most of the attack is captured on the cab’s onboard surveillance camera and there are witnesses as well. But what really left an impression on investigators was Griffin’s cell phone, which was allegedly left behind by the attacker.

“It was in his hand when he originally assaulted the cabbie and it must have fallen out,” police spokeswoman Sgt. Lyn Tomioka said.

Police arrested Griffin early Wednesday morning at Post and Larkin streets. Balinder is still recovering from the attack but is expected to survive.
       
Griffin flagged down the taxi and asked for a ride to States Street, according to prosecutors. He didn't give a specific address, but told the driver to stop on the street, which has only two outlets and is flanked by hiking trails into Corona Park.
       
When the driver stopped, Griffin allegedly brandished a knife and demanded money. As the driver was reaching for the money, Griffin allegedly began stabbing him, according to district attorney’ spokesman Brian Buckelew.
       
The driver was able to get out of the taxi, but Griffin allegedly continued the attack, stabbing the driver in the street, Buckelew said.

Griffin has a prior felony conviction for a robbery and attack on a woman who suffered broken bones in her face, according to Buckelew.
       
Griffin has been charged with one count of attempted murder, one count of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of first-degree robbery of a taxi driver.

Bay City News contributed to this report

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