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Albert Murray, the lead prosecutor in the indictments of San Francisco Police Chief Earl Sanders and nine other officers, might be the definition of a “lifer.” The 30-year veteran, now the managing attorney for special prosecutions, has held a variety of positions within the San Francisco district attorney’s office over the years though his name has rarely hit the public’s radar. Those who know him say he is the ultimate by-the-book prosecutor — what you see is what you get. “Al is just a straight shooter,” said Superior Court Judge Lenard Louie. “An honest, straight shooter.” “I’ve heard he’s a very careful guy and a good attorney and he usually doesn’t skate on thin ice,” said Superior Court Judge Carlos Bea. Murray seems likely to play his role differently than did the lead prosecutor in the last high-profile case brought by District Attorney Terence Hallinan — the dog-mauling trial of Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller. Assistant District Attorney James Hammer took the lead in that case, both in the courtroom and in the media, where he appeared to relish the spotlight. Hammer went on to win convictions based on indictments from a grand jury many felt had overcharged. Knoller’s second-degree murder conviction was eventually thrown out. At a Hall of Justice press conference Monday, Murray answered two brief questions after prompting by the district attorney. When asked who his prosecution team was, Murray said he would be working on the case with his boss, Assistant District Attorney David Pfeifer, the chief of special operations. When asked if he would be prosecuting all 10 officers single-handedly, Murray said “thank you” and quickly ducked out of the room. Murray may be best known for his prosecution of the so-called Foxglove murders, where gypsies were accused of bilking four elderly men out of their savings while slowly poisoning them to death. The long-running case essentially ended with plea bargains. The San Francisco Chronicle called the result “anti-climactic,” and no one was ever convicted of homicide in the case. The two main defendants agreed to six- and eight-year deals following an investigation that was reportedly rife with problems. That case, though, led Hallinan to make elder abuse one of his top priorities. Like many office veterans, Murray gave money to defense attorney Bill Fazio’s election campaign when Fazio — who now represents one of the indicted officers — ran against Hallinan to succeed Arlo Smith in 1995. Murray has since thrown his support behind Hallinan, donating more than $800 to his reelection campaigns. Hallinan moved Murray from the homicide unit to special investigations a year and a half ago. Murray spent much of Smith’s four terms as head of the career criminal unit. Smith also hired Murray’s daughter, Victoria Baldocchi, as a prosecutor in the office. Monday, Smith described Murray as a “first-class lawyer” who always presents a solid case and is careful about how he proceeds. “I think he’s well-respected as a very competent, ethical lawyer,” Smith said.

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