Man Sentenced to 26 Years to Life for 2012 Strangulation of Mission Resident

May 30, 2014

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


SAN FRANCISCO- Roland Pouncy, age 44 of San Francisco, was sentenced today to 26 years to life by the Honorable Donald Sullivan for first-degree murder. On May 9, 2014, a jury had found Pouncy guilty of first degree murder.

“This man was willing to take another life over a debit card,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “His willingness to murder another man over something so trivial is highly disturbing. I commend the judge and jury for ensuring he will not have another victim.”

On February 18, 2012, after returning from a birthday party, Richard Sprague and his domestic partner retired for the evening in their Mission District home. At about midnight, the victim got out of bed and announced that he was going out to buy cigarettes. He took neither his wallet nor his cell phone. He never returned.

At 2:40 AM on February 19th, a woman heard cries for help coming from in front of her residence on Julian Avenue. After a few moments, she got up from her bed and looked outside her second story bedroom window. Through the darkness she observed two figures on the sidewalk below. One was on his back calling for help and the other was straddling him, strangling the victim with both hands around his neck. Frightened, the women did not call police and returned to bed.

At 6:30 AM a passer-by noted the victim’s body but was unclear that the victim was deceased. The passer-by called police at 7:30 AM when she passed again and noted that the victim hadn’t moved. SFPD quickly responded, but were not immediately able to identify the victim since his pockets had been emptied. There was no ID.

Later that day at 1:30 PM, SFPD officers detained defendant Roland Pouncy for Jay-walking at 16th and Mission Streets, about a block and a half from the crime scene. When asked for ID, the Defendant retrieved a wallet from his pants pocket and withdrew a card from the wallet. He placed both items next to him and told the officers he had no ID. When one of the officers reached down and picked up the wallet and card, the Defendant stated, “that ain’t mine.” On closer inspection, the card was a Wells Fargo Bank card in the name of Richard Sprague. The Defendant was taken to Mission Police Station.

That same afternoon, the victim’s domestic partner went to Mission Station to file a missing persons report. While there, he was interviewed by Homicide Inspectors and soon identified his domestic partner’s bank card, and later, the victim’s body.

On February 22nd, SFPD Homicide detectives served a search warrant for Wells Fargo bank records. The records indicated a number of suspicious transactions made with the bank card the morning of the murder beginning at 7:25 AM. The transactions were made at neighborhood businesses such as McDonald's, a neighborhood Dollar Store and a taqueria. Surveillance video from McDonald's confirmed Pouncy's use of the bank card.

On February 23rd a female acquaintance of the defendant contacted Homicide Detectives and advised that she had seen Pouncy on the 19th at about noon at 16th and Mission. The defendant offered to buy her a pair of shoes. When the defendant attempted to purchase the shoes the clerk would not process the card without ID or a pin number. Outside the store, the defendant showed the card to the acquaintance and indicated that he had killed a man for the card in an alley the previous night.

The acquaintance contacted police after seeing a newspaper article on the 23rd about the killing. She recognized the victim’s name from the bank card. Surveillance video from the shoe store showed both the defendant and the acquaintance, and the store clerk confirmed that he refused to complete the transaction due to Pouncy’s inability to produce ID or a pin number.

The post mortem examination of the victim confirmed the cause of death was manual strangulation. Further, a swab of DNA from the victim’s neck yielded genetic material which led to the development of two DNA profiles. One profile matched the victim’s DNA, the other matched the defendant’s.

“This conviction would not have been possible without the exceptional investigative work of SFPD and the forensic evidence that placed Pouncy at the scene of the crime,” said District Attorney Gascón.

We applaud the citizens who assisted in securing justice by contacting the proper authorities with information that was crucial to the prosecution. The successful investigation and prosecution of this case would not have been possible without the excellent work of SFPD Inspectors John Cagney, Brian Delahunty and Michael Philpott, SFPD DNA specialist Kimberly Wong and Assistant District Attorney John Rowland.