William Monaghan faces trial in San Francisco Superior Court on March 28 for the murder of Lional Voillat last Oct. 26.
Monaghan, who is 27, is accused of throwing Voillat overboard from the upper deck of a party boat in San Francisco Bay on the night of Oct. 26.
Monaghan, who was working as a carpenter in San Francisco, is being held in lieu of $5 million bail following an arraignment hearing last week.
Monaghan was arrested after he allegedly told a fellow passenger on the Red and White Fleet’s “Royal Prince” that he had thrown Voillat, a Swiss citizen, overboard because “he was the jealous type.”
Voillat’s body was found three weeks later floating between Alcatraz and Angel Island.
During an earlier preliminary hearing, held just before Christmas, witnesses stated that Monaghan and Voillat, 30, had argued about a conversation Monaghan had with Voillat’s girlfriend during a Halloween party moments before Voillat vanished over the side of the boat.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that witness Nancy Soto testified that she had seen the two men talking at the front of the boat during the party, then had watched as Monaghan grabbed Voillat’s leg and put his arm around the victim’s back.
“Then he lifted him up and pushed him over the railing,” Soto said.
She told the court that Monaghan looked over his shoulder and then walked off quickly. Soto said she followed Monaghan, found security guards and reported what she had seen.
One of the guards ran to the back of the boat to look for Voillat in the water while the other ran to the captain’s deck to inform the crew, she said.
Soto said that along with the security guards she subsequently found Monaghan “dancing with a girl on the lower deck.” She said Monaghan was wearing a Halloween costume of a long fake nose with a white shirt and had dark circles painted around his eyes.
The court heard that Monaghan and Voillat had argued after Monaghan had conversed with Voillat’s girlfriend.
According to the Chronicle, another witness, Bernadette Mee, testified that Monaghan had approached her on the boat and told her that he had thrown Voillat overboard.
She quoted Monaghan as saying Voillat was “the jealous type” and deserved what he got because he had “hit me smack in the nose and it really hurt.”
Mee said she had told Monaghan that she hoped rescuers would find Voillat. “So do I,” was Monaghan’s reply, Mee said.
She said Monaghan appeared to be drunk.
Moments before Voillat went over the side, he and Monaghan had a seemingly innocuous conflict over Voillat’s girlfriend, Vivianne Taylor.
Taylor testified that Monaghan had asked her how long she and Voillat had dated. She said she had told Monaghan that they had been dating for five years.
Taylor stated that Monaghan had given her a friendly hug but then Voillat came up beside the two and ordered Monaghan to go away.
She said that her boyfriend delivered the command several times but at that point she had walked away leaving the two men at the front of the boat.
A few minutes later, she saw Monaghan walking quickly away. She went looking for Voillat but could not find him.
None of the witnesses testified that they had seen Voillat punch Monaghan in the nose.
Based on the preliminary testimony of the witnesses, Superior Court Judge James Warren ordered that Monaghan stand trial on the murder charge.
Monaghan’s defense attorney, Brendon Wen, told the Echo that his client trusted the legal process he was now facing.
“Once the facts come out in trial, it will be clear to the jury that William is innocent,” Wen said.
Wen, who has stated he does not believe the case warrants a murder charge, said that Monaghan was being confined in a sixth-floor cell in the county jail.
“He’s holding up well,” Wen said. “He has never been in jail before, so obviously it’s a very difficult and frustrating situation for him. But he trusts the process.”
Wen has indicated that he will raise the matter of identification in trial and would question whether the man identified by witnesses was in fact Monaghan.
A pre-trial conference in the case has been set for March 10. Wen said that while March 28 had been set as a trial date, he believes that jury selection would mean a trial would not properly get under way until about a week later.
According to reports, prosecutors pushed for a speedy trial because a primary witness in the case is due to return to Ireland in May. The main prosecuting attorney in the Monaghan case, James Hammer, was on leave from his office this week and could not be contacted.