A suspected illegal immigrant - free after being shielded from deportation by San Francisco officials despite committing two gang-related assaults as a juvenile - is now facing charges that he tried to stab a man to death in San Mateo County, authorities say.
The case of Eric Antonio Uc-Cahun, now 19, is the second in which a youth offender protected from deportation in San Francisco has gone on to be arrested for a violent crime as an adult. The San Mateo County stabbing was especially vicious, authorities said - a top prosecutor said the victim had been "gutted, like you gut a pig."
Uc-Cahun's history of youth offenses in the city was similar to that of Edwin Ramos, a 21-year-old Salvadoran native facing triple-murder charges in connection with the June slayings of a San Francisco man and two of his sons on an Excelsior district street.
"How many of these people are there who were the beneficiaries of this process?" asked Joseph Russoniello, the U.S. attorney for Northern California, who has been critical of the city's practice of shielding of immigrants from deportation.
"This is what happens when the best intentions are misapplied," Russoniello said. "If there was any justification for this program, cases like this certainly undermine that expectation."
And... in what is now a common story here, the perp had a LOOOONG history of criminal activity - and hand-slap "punishment" - before nearly killing a man...
Uc-Cahun's criminal history as a juvenile dates at least from Aug. 13, 2006, when San Francisco police reports show that he was arrested along with two other suspected gang members in the assault on a man at Dolores Park. The victim was hit in the head and threatened with a gun after the group demanded to know whether he was a gang member, according to the reports.
Uc-Cahun did not cooperate with police, refusing even to say where he lived, authorities said. The police report on the attack says Uc-Cahun was a Sureño gang member known as "Tweety" who had "numerous prior contacts" with law enforcement.
Uc-Cahun, then 17, was taken to juvenile hall and eventually was found to have committed felony assault. A San Francisco juvenile court placed him on probation and freed him from juvenile hall.
On Oct. 18, 2006, shortly after his release, Uc-Cahun was arrested again, this time for allegedly being part of group that accosted a stranger on the street and ripped a chain from his neck.
He spent four months in juvenile hall before being found responsible for a single charge of felony assault. He turned 18 by the time he was freed in February 2007 and put on a year's probation.
Uc-Cahun was still on probation May 22, 2007, when he and several other suspected gang members allegedly jumped a man waiting for a ride on the 2700 block of Bayshore Boulevard in Daly City, said Steve Wagstaffe, chief deputy district attorney for San Mateo County.
Three men approached, accused the man of being a rival gang member and started beating him with a broomstick that eventually broke, Wagstaffe said. Other members of the group stripped the man of his jacket, and Uc-Cahun allegedly used a box cutter with a 2-inch blade to slash his abdomen open in two places.
"He basically gutted him, like you gut a pig to get to the meat," Wagstaffe said. The man survived and later identified Uc-Cahun as the man with the box cutter.
A month later, a still-jailed Uc-Cahun allegedly wrote a letter to a friend, providing the name and address of the victim and suggesting that the friend "take care of things," Wagstaffe said. San Francisco police executing a search warrant in May at a suspected gang house found the letter, he said.
Uc-Cahun was charged with witness intimidation along with attempted murder, robbery and other gang-related counts.