Convicted Arsonist Charged With Lighting Homeless Man on Fire

David Diaz is being held without bail after his fourth arrest in 7 years.

David Diaz in his booking photo from 2016, and the block where the alleged arson of a man took place. (Images: SFPD, Google)

Charges have officially been filed against serial arsonist David Diaz, who, as we previously reported, was arrested last Thursday for attempted murder. Details of the crime were slim, though SFPD did tell SF Weekly that the incident took place on the 1000 block of Folsom Street on Feb. 19, 2018.

Now, new details in the case have emerged, disclosing that Diaz was allegedly caught on security cameras lighting the arm of a homeless man on fire as the victim slept in a doorway. Passersby woke the man and helped extinguish the fire before any serious injury took place.

The District Attorney’s office confirmed with SF Weekly Tuesday that Diaz is being officially charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and other arson-related charges. 

Diaz has a colorful history with fire, beginning with the 2011 burning of 23-year-old Freddy Roberto Canul-Arguello’s body in a recycling bin in Buena Vista Park.  A jury later convicted him of involuntary manslaughter and arson, but Judge Donald Sullivan set aside the arson conviction, as Diaz had no prior criminal convictions, and he did not believe he’d set another fire. 

Nevertheless, Diaz was again arrested in 2015 for a series of arson incidents in the Castro, which included vehicles, porta-potties, a free library, and a hair salon. He was released in September of 2016, but arrested again two months later for assault. He’s been out on probation since March 2017.

“This person should not be released under any circumstances during the pendency of this case,” Alex Bastian, spokesperson for the DA’s office, told SF Weekly. “We’ve moved to detain him without bail.” 

Diaz appeared briefly in court Tuesday, dressed in an orange jail-issued sweatsuit and glasses. His defense attorney, Hien Nguyen, requested that his arraignment be pushed to Tuesday, March 20 so that the defense had more time to review the video footage linking Diaz to the crime.

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