The high-profile case surrounding the tragic death of Thai immigrant Vicha Ratanapakdee in 2021 is set to move forward with a trial date, a San Francisco judge decided on Friday.
Catch up: Ratanapakdee, 84, died at the hospital days after he was violently pushed to the ground while on his routine exercise walk in San Francisco‘s Anza Vista neighborhood on Jan. 28, 2021. The incident, which was caught on video, helped ignite the Stop Asian Hate movement, drawing attention to anti-Asian violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the international outcry, the case has been marred by a lengthy delay. Between the incident and the suspect’s trial, a street has been renamed in honor of Ratanapakdee.
Potential date for trial: On Dec. 8, a San Francisco judge agreed to set a trial date when the hearing reconvenes in early February 2024, as per The San Franciso Standard. The trial date is expected to be set sometime in late March, marking over 1,000 days following Ratanapakdee’s death.
“The delay in justice, as witnesses’ memories are vanishing, is exasperating,” said Monthanus Ratanapakdee, the daughter of the victim and a prominent activist.
Defendant and legal battle: Ratanapakdee’s alleged killer, Antoine Watson, appeared in court for the recent hearing. The 22-year-old, who has been in custody since shortly after the incident, is facing charges of murder and elder abuse. His defense attorney, citing mental stress, argues that Watson had no intent to kill and is pushing for his charges to be reduced to involuntary manslaughter.
Both the prosecution and defense have traded blame for the delay, with the defense emphasizing the need for a thorough investigation.