News

Stanford employee pleads not guilty to trying to kill girlfriend

Severely injured woman calls incident a 'horrific accident'

A Stanford University 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.

During his arraignment Wednesday, James Shirvell, 26, pleaded not guilty to the attempted homicide charge, as well as charges of domestic violence, assault with a deadly weapon and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury.

According to court documents, Shirvell stabbed his girlfriend numerous times with a kitchen knife at a home in the 500 block of Kansas Street early Sunday morning around 12:25 a.m. Both had taken LSD, a hallucinogen, together at some point before the stabbing.

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.

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One statement was in a letter from the victim, Shirvell's girlfriend, who remains hospitalized for stab wounds and lacerations to her shoulder, arm, back, face and head. She also suffered a collapsed lung, according to court documents.

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.

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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.

After detaining Shirvell and hospitalizing the victim, investigators found out that after the couple allegedly took LSD, Shirvell began acting strangely. When the victim went to get him water, Shirvell suddenly walked to the kitchen, grabbed the knife and allegedly began stabbing her repeatedly.

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.

Shirvell is employed as an assistant director of admission at Stanford, and has been placed on leave, university officials said.

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 fulltime 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."

Shirvell is set to appear in court again on March 13.

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Stanford employee pleads not guilty to trying to kill girlfriend

Severely injured woman calls incident a 'horrific accident'

by Bay City News Service / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Mar 7, 2019, 7:48 am

A Stanford University 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.

During his arraignment Wednesday, James Shirvell, 26, pleaded not guilty to the attempted homicide charge, as well as charges of domestic violence, assault with a deadly weapon and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury.

According to court documents, Shirvell stabbed his girlfriend numerous times with a kitchen knife at a home in the 500 block of Kansas Street early Sunday morning around 12:25 a.m. Both had taken LSD, a hallucinogen, together at some point before the stabbing.

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.

One statement was in a letter from the victim, Shirvell's girlfriend, who remains hospitalized for stab wounds and lacerations to her shoulder, arm, back, face and head. She also suffered a collapsed lung, according to court documents.

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.

After detaining Shirvell and hospitalizing the victim, investigators found out that after the couple allegedly took LSD, Shirvell began acting strangely. When the victim went to get him water, Shirvell suddenly walked to the kitchen, grabbed the knife and allegedly began stabbing her repeatedly.

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.

Shirvell is employed as an assistant director of admission at Stanford, and has been placed on leave, university officials said.

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 fulltime 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."

Shirvell is set to appear in court again on March 13.

Comments

Mr. Mackey
University South
on Mar 7, 2019 at 11:29 am
Mr. Mackey, University South
on Mar 7, 2019 at 11:29 am

Drugs Are Bad. M'Kay?


Anonymous
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 7, 2019 at 11:46 am
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 7, 2019 at 11:46 am

There seems to be an attempt to claim oh well, he took a drug (that supposedly was his first time using - who knows) to explain and excuse his violent attack in this woman. I don’t care what his claimed “excuse” is - he’s dangerous, did attack the woman horrifically even if “he usually isn’t like this.” Sheesh. Terrible judgement. Terrible crime.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2019 at 12:22 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 7, 2019 at 12:22 pm

LSD is one of those drugs that causes people to do things such as jump out of a window believing they can fly or put their arm in a flaming and say they are not burning.

This is just another aspect.

However, saying that, should LSD users be employed by Stanford? I don't know the answer. That's why I'm asking.


alarmed
Old Palo Alto
on Mar 7, 2019 at 12:54 pm
alarmed, Old Palo Alto
on Mar 7, 2019 at 12:54 pm

As a Stanford alum and former employee, I would have to say NO to reinstating this young man assuming he is found to have committed this act. Clearly he is not homicidal in his right mind, but it is extremely poor judgement in taking LSD in the first place, not to mention the fact that is illegal to sell , buy , or use such a drug! Stanford has enough problems calming the fears of parents who read about the high level of violent attacks on campus without reinstating an admissions officer convicted ( if he is so) of this horrific act. If feel for him and his poor girlfriend as their lives will be forever changed.. My poor cousin jumped from the third floor of a building in the 60s after taking LSD , thinking he could fly.. I do hope this story stops someone else from taking this drug!


An Unfortunate Incident
Stanford
on Mar 7, 2019 at 1:10 pm
An Unfortunate Incident, Stanford
on Mar 7, 2019 at 1:10 pm

From the Palo Alto Weekly reportage...

> "During his arraignment Wednesday, James Shirvell, 26, pleaded not guilty..."

** Suspects are always advised to plead 'not guilty' which places the burden of proof on the prosecution and/or accuser.

> Shirvell's attorney Eric Safire recognized that the victim's injuries were severe but called the stabbing an "isolated incident and really an anomaly."
> 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 fulltime basis. He's had no prior contacts with the court and has lived an exemplary life."

** A typical explanation/response from a defense attorney.

> 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."

** Quite possible but...a lab analysis of any 'tainted' LSD will have to be provided + psychological testing of the suspect for this defense to hold any water.

People have been dropping acid for decades (just ask any Deadhead) & chemical purity of the substance is of paramount importance as well as the environment where one is 'tripping'.

Old timers will recall that Steely Dan song 'Kid Charlemagne' (1975) & Owsley Stanley who was famous for manufacturing some of the finest LSD ever endowed upon practitioners of the hallucinogen.

Unfortunately (and like anything) corners are often cut when others get into the act + some individuals based on their psychological make-up, shouldn't be partaking in LSD.


Athletes entitled to 1 crime?
Stanford
on Mar 7, 2019 at 2:11 pm
Athletes entitled to 1 crime?, Stanford
on Mar 7, 2019 at 2:11 pm

Shirvell's attorney Eric Safire recognized that the victim's injuries were severe but called the stabbing an "isolated incident and really an anomaly."

Stanford hired a very young (23) athlete for a job that requires an experienced adult.
"an isolated incident?"give me a break.


vmshadle
Registered user
Meadow Park
on Mar 7, 2019 at 2:31 pm
vmshadle, Meadow Park
Registered user
on Mar 7, 2019 at 2:31 pm

I cannot help but notice that the suspect in this case is a young white male who graduated from one of the best universities in the country. The immediate excuse-making for this man's violent behavior reminded me immediately of the Brock Turner case.

Would people be making the same excuses for someone who wasn't white and/or didn't attend an elite university?


Pervasive Racism
another community
on Mar 7, 2019 at 2:50 pm
Pervasive Racism, another community
on Mar 7, 2019 at 2:50 pm

>...the suspect in this case is a young white male who graduated from one of the best universities in the country...
> Would people be making the same excuses for someone who wasn't white and/or didn't attend an elite university?

You mean for example...an impoverished African-American male from the inner city?

I don't think so, Tim.


Jane Gill
Menlo Park
on Mar 7, 2019 at 5:13 pm
Jane Gill, Menlo Park
on Mar 7, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Tragic situation for all involved. I wish the young lady a speedy physical recovery. The mental recovery will probably take considerably longer. What a shame.

For what it’s worth, I took LSD a dozen times in the late 1960s and early 1970s — almost always window pane acid, and always done with friends during the day and out in nature, e.g., in the woods or at the beach. These were some of my favorite moments. A positive experience. That was a much different era.


AnthroMan
Stanford
on Mar 7, 2019 at 5:49 pm
AnthroMan, Stanford
on Mar 7, 2019 at 5:49 pm

> People have been dropping acid for decades (just ask any Deadhead) & chemical purity of the substance is of paramount importance as well as the environment where one is 'tripping'.

> For what it’s worth, I took LSD a dozen times in the late 1960s and early 1970s — almost always window pane acid, and always done with friends during the day and out in nature, e.g., in the woods or at the beach. These were some of my favorite moments. A positive experience.

^^^ This. You don't do it while in a crowded bus or waiting to have a colonoscopy.
Environment is paramount as is the quality of the LSD.


Shallow ALTO
College Terrace
on Mar 8, 2019 at 7:45 am
Shallow ALTO, College Terrace
on Mar 8, 2019 at 7:45 am
AllYouCanEat
Mountain View
on Mar 8, 2019 at 8:54 am
AllYouCanEat, Mountain View
on Mar 8, 2019 at 8:54 am

"These were some of my favorite moments. A positive experience."

They walk among us!


Criminal Defense Attorney
another community
on Mar 8, 2019 at 1:40 pm
Criminal Defense Attorney, another community
on Mar 8, 2019 at 1:40 pm

His lawyer should argue potentially tainted LSD & defendant's exemplary standing as a Stanford employee & Yale graduate. References helpful.

[Portion removed.]

Probation & drug classes is best case scenario with full record expungement following 6 months of good behavior during probationary time frame.

Defendant can then resume regular life as if nothing ever happened.

I handle these kinds of cases all the time & the rap can be beaten by discrediting others or shifting the focus to other dubious factors. This is what I do best.


alarmed
Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 8, 2019 at 1:48 pm
alarmed, Palo Alto Hills
on Mar 8, 2019 at 1:48 pm

Criminal Defense Attorney. Wow , talk about blaming the victim! This is despicable. Pleading tainted LSD is one thing, accusing the girl of slipping it into his drink? Do think getting him off using that tactic will leave him " resume regular life as if nothing had happened"? YOU are what gives the legal system such a bad name. Shame on you.


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