SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A Stanford employee arrested Sunday in San Francisco has been charged with attempted homicide for allegedly stabbing his girlfriend while under the influence of LSD, San Francisco prosecutors said.
26-year-old James Shrivell is charged with one count of attempted murder, domestic violence and two counts of assault, all of which he pleaded not guilty to during his arraignment on Wednesday. He is being held without bail.
The incident happened at a home in the 500 block of Kansas Street on Portrero Hill early Sunday morning around 12:25 a.m. Both had taken LSD, a hallucinogen, together at some point before the stabbing.
He then began to act strangely and, while his girlfriend went to the kitchen to get him some water he “grabbed a large butcher knife from a butcher block and, without any provocation, began stabbing her with it repeatedly.”
“We have a victim that was stabbed numerous times with injuries. We want to do everything to enhance public safety and protect our community,” said Alex Bastian, the Assistant District Attorney.
In court, while arguing for his release, Shirvell’s attorney Eric Safire recognized that the victim’s injuries were severe but called the stabbing an “isolated incident and really an anomaly.”
Several of Shirvell’s family and friends showed up to court and Judge Rita Lin allowed some of them to give statements on his behalf. They showed support for Shrivell, saying that the case is one big mistake.
The court documents reveal the victim was stabbed in the upper back, shoulder, arm, head and multiple areas on her face. She also had a collapsed lung and had to undergo emergency surgery.
Yet during Shrivell’s arraignment in county, she had a letter read asking the court for forgiveness, claiming that LSD was to blame for Shrivell’s violent behavior.
In the letter, which was read by the victim’s mother, the victim said Shirvell had “pure intentions” but that night he was “possessed by another force.” She also called the incident a “horrific accident.”
Prosecutor Courtney Burris described the stabbing as an “unprovoked random attack on his partner,” and asked Lin to allow a no bail status for Shirvell.
“How can I be sure that he is not going to take LSD again and have another freakout,” Lin said to Safire, before agreeing to hold Shirvell without bail.
Lin also issued a protective order, mandating that Shirvell stay away from the victim.
According to court documents, Shirvell and the victim had dated for a year and a half and had been living together for about six weeks at the Kansas Street home.
When officers responded Sunday morning to a report of domestic violence there, they learned the victim had run to the home’s front steps and shouted for help, while bleeding profusely.
When officers entered the home, they found Shirvell lying on the kitchen floor covered in blood and next to a trail of blood leading to an 8-inch knife.
Despite being badly injured, the victim was able to call for help.
At the home, investigators were able to recover the knife thought to be used in the attack and a clear yellow plastic bag containing small papers believed to be LSD.
Shrivell is an assistant director of admissions at Stanford university. The school released a statement saying, “Mr. Shirvell has been placed on leave and will not be coming to campus or performing any admissions work. We are continuing to gather information on this matter to inform next steps.”
Outside of court, Safire said, “He’s got a degree from Yale University. He’s been employed with Stanford University for the past two years on a permanent full-time basis. He’s had no prior contacts with the court and has lived an exemplary life.”
He added, “My personal opinion is that it was the result of some adverse drug reaction. There’s nothing in his history that indicates any reason for any kind of psychotic break. I think it was a bad acid trip, but I’m no professional, but that’s what it appears to be.”
Shrivell is separated from other inmates at the San Francisco County Jail and is under observation. He is set to appear in court again on March 13.
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