Daniel Cauich, the suspect in last week's random stabbing on Post Street that injured a 94-year-old woman, was released from jail in 2019 after serving three years pending trial for murder. The main reason: Cauich and his brother, who were both charged in the 2016 killing, were not properly Mirandized after their arrest.
The outcry about last week's stabbing is likely to continue, with Cauich being the latest allegedly violent suspect with an extensive rap sheet in San Francisco to be implicated in a new crime after being freed from jail. In Cauich's case, all of his most recent charges were burglary-related, and his most recent arrest in May came just over a month after his release from a 100-day stint in jail. Court records obtained by SFist suggest that he'd been required to seek outpatient treatment for unknown substance-abuse issues.
But the charges against him in 2016 were much more serious, and we're just now getting a clearer picture of what happened in that case that led to the 2019 release of both Cauich brothers and the dismissal of their charges.
55-year-old Larry Peevey was killed at the 16th and Mission BART plaza on June 5, 2016. Daniel and his brother Header Couch, along with another man, Jose Poot, were arrested and all three charged in Peevey's murder. As the Examiner reported at the time, Peevey was killed with two knives and a hatchet — and police had grainy surveillance video of the crime.
Poot was implicated in dealing the fatal blow to Peevey, and he remains in custody pending trial.
After their arrest, Daniel and Header Cauich, who do not speak adequate English, were both read their Miranda rights with the help of an interpreter. After apparently not clearly being told they had a right to remain silent — there was some issue with the translation of the Miranda rights, and SFist has requested a full transcript of the hearing for clarification of what was amiss — the brothers reportedly identified themselves in statements to police as being in the grainy video, and they were subsequently charged and held pending trial until a hearing in late February 2019.
According to an excerpt from the court transcript from that hearing, defense attorney Paul Dennison successfully argued that charges against the brothers should be dismissed both due to the inadmissibility of their initial statements to police, and the lack of other evidence against them.
Around the country, charges have been dropped in multiple criminal cases in recent years due to issues with Miranda rights either not being given in a suspect's native language, or not being adequately translated — or, as in a 2013 murder case in New Jersey, the suspect was properly Mirandized in Spanish but signed a consent form to provide his DNA that was in English without translation.
Further complicating the case was a change in the criminal statute regarding accomplices to murder, Senate Bill 1437, that was signed into law in September 2018 by then Governor Jerry Brown and took effect on January 1, 2019. The law reformed the state's murder statute to require "malice aforethought" in an accomplice in order to secure a first-degree murder conviction, and both the judge, Carol Yaggy (who retired in April 2019) and Dennison referred to this change in the February 2019 hearing.
Dennison argued that without the statement given by Daniel Cauich as to his presence at the BART plaza, given without proper Mirandizing, the court had no other proof that he was at the scene of the crime. And even if there were such evidence, there was no proof of express malice toward the victim from either Cauich or his brother.
"If the court believes there is evidence of that, of Mr. Daniel Cauich's presence [at the crime scene], I don't think the court can hold him on Count 1, the murder charge, based on the change in the law," Dennison argued. "There is no natural and probable consequence. There has to be proof of express malice. There's no proof of that here whatsoever."
The prosecutor in the case, veteran prosecutor Assistant District Attorney John Rowland — who recently retired — admitted to the judge that the prosecution's "theory was based on the statement that [Cauich] gave to police on the occasion of his arrest."
"And without that statement to tie to him into the activities in the intersection, all I can do is submit the matter to Your Honor," Rowland said.
Judge Yaggy would then rule that there was sufficient probable cause and evidence of Poot's guilt, but that the Cauich brothers both needed to be released — three years in — for lack of evidence. She dismissed all three counts against both brothers, and said, "The court is aware of the change in law with regard to murder statutes."
District Attorney Chesa Boudin has been quick to make clear that his office recommended that Daniel Cauich be held in detention following his May 20, 2021 arrest on new burglary charges, in particular because he was under felony probation following his burglary conviction last fall. But a judge disagreed and allowed Cauich to be released with an ankle monitor as of May 24. Cauich was also required to seek outpatient treatment at Mission Council — a nonprofit that provides treatment for Spanish speakers for alcohol and substance abuse.
And Cauich was clearly known to police because he was identified and detained just hours after the stabbing last Wednesday.
"My office takes very seriously the critical decision about whether to seek detention in every single case," Boudin says in a statement to SFist. "We’re mindful always of public safety and the constitutional rights of those accused. In the May arrest of Daniel Cauich, we requested detention both on the basis of newly filed criminal charges, and on the basis of his recently imposed felony probation. In this case, as in all cases, the ultimate decision about whether to release or detain lies with the court."
Boudin adds, "Now my office is focused on holding Mr. Cauich accountable for the serious crime we have charged him with, and on supporting the victim and her family as they recover."
Cauich was charged on Friday with attempted murder, battery causing serious bodily injury, and elder abuse.
The victim, Ahn Taylor, returned home from the hospital on Saturday, and was in good spirits according to her niece.
Top image: 2016 mugshot of Daniel Cauich via SF Sheriff's Department