San Francisco man accused in Muni killing pleads not guilty 

The man who prosecutors say killed San Francisco State University student Justin Valdez for no reason last week pleaded not guilty to multiple charges Wednesday.

Nikhom Thephakaysone, 30, allegedly shot 20-year-old Valdez in the back about 9:50 p.m. Sept. 23 as Valdez hopped off an eastbound M-Ocean View Muni train at the corner of Randolph and Bright streets.

During Thephakaysone’s arraignment Wednesday, prosecutors said that earlier that night Thephakaysone, also an SFSU student, had stuck a .45-caliber handgun in another man’s back, but did not pull the trigger. He also reportedly earlier waved a gun outside a Thai restaurant before boarding the same Muni train as Valdez, at 19th and Holloway avenues.

Thephakaysone and Valdez stood between 5 and 8 feet from each other on the train, but had no interaction. Surveillance video shows not a “hint of familiarity between the two,” Clark said.

After Valdez was shot, the prosecutor added, he could be heard on the video pleading for help before losing consciousness.

Thephakaysone was arrested at the Oceanside home he shared with his mother and stepfather, about three blocks from the killing. Investigators said they found two assault rifles, $20,000 in cash, knives and various survival gear items at the home.

On Wednesday, the judge ordered Thephakaysone to be held without bail.

— Staff, wire report

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