Alleged robbers plead not guilty to murder of San Francisco
By Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News Service
July 28, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Three men accused of killing a
San Francisco police officer by crashing a stolen van into a patrol
car after a robbery are suspected of being involved in two other
earlier robberies, San Francisco police reported today.
According to police, Steven Petrilli, 19, Nicholas Smith, 22,
and Carl Lather, 20, took part in a robbery near Silver Avenue
and Mission Street at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday and then another a few
hours later, shortly after midnight, at a bus stop at Mission
Street and Excelsior Avenue.
Today Petrilli and Smith pleaded not guilty to murder in San
Francisco Superior Court in connection with the death of 39-year-old
San Francisco police Officer Nick-Tomasito Birco after the 1 a.m.
Judge Carol Yaggy set bail for each man at $10 million.
Petrilli, Smith and Lather were each charged Thursday with one
count of murder, two counts of robbery, one count of attempted
robbery, one count of evading a police officer causing death and
one count of vehicular manslaughter, the district attorney's office
The arraignment for Lather was put off until Monday because he
did not have an attorney present.
Birco, a five-year police veteran based at the Bayview station,
died after police chased an allegedly stolen van along Interstate
Highway 280 and through city streets.
The chase began with the report of a robbery in the 500 block
of Bayshore Boulevard, according to authorities, and ended with
the suspects crashing the van into Birco's patrol car at Cambridge
and Fulton streets around 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Petrilli also has been charged with auto theft. Additionally,
each of the charges he faces includes a sentencing enhancement
because he was out on bail at the time of the incident.
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