A man accused of attacking two Asian seniors in San Francisco will remain locked up until his next court hearing, a judge decided Friday.
The judge said he's too worried about public safety to let suspect Steven Jenkins, who is homeless, back out on the street. The judge ordered a psychological assessment to find out what kind of mental health issues, if any, Jenkins might have.
Jenkins’ only ally in court Friday was San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Eric McBurney, who just so happens to be Asian American himself and said he has no problem defending his client.
"People are asking me the same kind of question: does it bother you that Asians are getting attacked and you’re representing this person? It doesn’t," McBurney said.
McBurney has read the national headlines and has seen the disturbing images of 83-year-old Knoc Pham and 75-year-old Xiao Zhen Zie taken after the attacks. Their faces are black and blue after they were allegedly beaten up by Jenkins unprovoked.
McBurney said it's still too early to call these attacks hate crimes.
"I don’t know what happened, but I have an idea that Mr. Jenkins is struggling," McBurney said.
After his conversation with Jenkins, McBurney believes a mental illness is likely to blame.
"Seventy percent of our clients are homeless and mentally ill at the same time," McBurney said.
Upon hearing about the ages of the victims, the judge said he was extremely concerned about public safety and denied Jenkins bail. In the meantime, McBurney is asking the public to withhold their judgement and wait for the results of a psychological evaluation.
Jenkins faces charges of assault, battery and elder abuse. His next court date is set for Tuesday.