Man Found Guilty of First Degree Murder for 2009 Slaying

July 14th, 2014
Twitter: @GeorgeGascon

Alex Bastian (415) 553-1931
Maxwell Szabo, (415) 553-9089


– A jury found Alex Herrera, age 56, guilty of murder in the first degree on Friday, July 11. On September 10th, 2009, victim John Montgomery, age 42, was in his room in the Vincent Hotel on Turk Street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. The defendant, Alex Herrera, was also a resident of the hotel. Both the victim and the defendant were heavily involved in drugs. Reportedly, they were involved in a dispute related to methadone owed to the defendant, and at approximately 12:30 PM, Herrera went to the victim’s room and demanded payment. The victim’s girlfriend, Candace Thomas, refused and slammed the door in his face.

It was decided that the girlfriend of the defendant would conceal the methadone on her person and exit the hotel so it could be sold. On her way downstairs she passed the defendant who was coming upstairs. Herrera bumped into her and continued upstairs. The victim’s girlfriend paused on the landing and heard Montgomery say words to the effect of, “she has the dope downstairs.” She continued downstairs to the lobby, and minutes later the victim joined her in the lobby and he was bleeding profusely.

Thomas assisted Montgomery to the sidewalk and with assistance from Dale Slagter, gently laid him down on the pavement. He was gasping for air and the bleeding continued. Shortly thereafter, Herrera exited the front door of the hotel, and as Ms. Thomas was kneeling on the sidewalk she looked at Herrera and shouted, “you hurt my husband, you hurt my husband!” The defendant replied, “I don’t care,” and proceeded to walk west on Turk Street. He was arrested by SFPD after travelling less than a block.

The Medical Examiner testified that the victim sustained ten wounds from a sharp instrument. The stab wound inflicted to the victims back proved to be fatal. A knife capable of having inflicted the wounds in question was found behind the hotel, beneath the defendant’s window. The victim’s DNA was found on the knife. Witnesses at the Vincent Hotel who saw the attack corroborated the Medical Examiner’s testimony in their descriptions of how the knife had been wielded by Herrera, indicating that they had seen him stab the victim in the arm, shoulder and back.

“It’s saddening that a man lost his life over drugs,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “It’s a lesson to us all about the devastating impacts that drug abuse can have. I am very pleased that justice was served, but the victim’s family will never be the same.”

“Securing a guilty verdict in a case this old is incredibly difficult,” said Assistant District Attorney John Rowland who was the lead prosecutor on the case. “It simply would not have been possible without the dedication and diligence of the SFPD.”

The successful investigation and prosecution of this case would not have been possible without the excellent work of SFPD Inspectors Robert Velarde, Gavin McEachernand, and Gianrico Pierucci, DA Investigator Henry McKenzie, SFPD IT Specialists Oscar Barcena and Michael Murphy, and Assistant District Attorney John Rowland.