Teen pleads not guilty to slaying of OB homeless man

A security camera captured these images of a man suspected of stabbing a homeless man to death in Ocean Beach.

SAN DIEGO – A 19-year-old San Diego man accused of fatally stabbing a well-liked transient in Ocean Beach pleaded not guilty Friday to a murder charge.

Noah Mitchell Jackson was ordered held on $2 million bail.

The defendant was arrested Tuesday in Orange County in connection with June 22, 2017, killing of 65-year-old Walter “Ras” Riley.

Just before 12:30 a.m. that day, a 911 caller reported that a man was attacking another in the 1900 block of Bacon Street, San Diego police homicide Lt. Todd Griffin said. Responding officers found Riley lying on the sidewalk with stab wounds to his upper body.

The victim — an Ohio native nicknamed “the Incense Man” due to his practice of selling aromatic burning sticks at local farmers’ markets — was taken to UCSD Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Riley was a peaceful and friendly fixture on the streets of his adopted coastal hometown, according to area residents and merchants.

Walter “Ras” Riley

Investigators working to identify the killer released surveillance footage following the slaying that showed a white or Hispanic man dressed in baggy blue jeans and a light-colored gray hooded sweatshirt. A security camera at a nearby business captured images of the suspect shortly before the fatal assault took place. After mortally injuring Riley, the assailant fled a short distance to the south, then to the east on Newport Avenue.

Police did not provide a motive for the deadly attack or say what evidence led them to Jackson, but San Diego police detectives obtained an arrest warrant after identifying him as the lone suspect.

On Tuesday, Jackson was located in Huntington Beach and arrested by SDPD detectives with the help of local police and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Jackson faces 26 years to life if convicted. He will be back in court March 6 for a status conference and March 8 for a preliminary hearing.