A manslaughter suspect accused of causing an explosion at a San Francisco home that killed his wife is set to be released from jail after a court appearance Friday. His arraignment has been postponed until Feb. 24.
Darron Price is charged with involuntary manslaughter, manufacturing a controlled substance, four counts of reckless burning, two counts of child endangerment and one count of elder abuse.
The San Francisco Chief Medical Examiner’s Office identified the deceased woman as 51-year-old Rita Price earlier on Wednesday. Prosecutors confirmed Friday that Rita Price was the suspect’s wife and that she had been suffering from a stroke that happened eight years ago and required assistance from a home health care worker.
Judge Victor Hwang released Price from custody after ordering tough search conditions be placed on him.
The search conditions include his electronic devices, browser history, any packages he receives, home and property.
The reason for the search of electronic devices is to ensure he cannot order more chemicals or materials to produce controlled substances, according to Hwang.
The court also ordered Price to stay away from his neighbors on 22nd Avenue, but allowed "peaceful contact" with his two teenage kids. He is barred from discussing legal proceedings with the children.
Price will be allowed to return to his home address if accompanied by legal counsel.
Price must also surrender his passports, with prosecutors arguing that he was a flight risk, as he is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia. The defense argued that both his passports were destroyed in the fire at 1734 22nd Ave.
It is unclear when Price will be released, his public defender Sierra Villaran said, as there will need to be a search for a suitable home that must be approved by the SF Sheriff's Department.
Prosecutors said in court Wednesday that the explosion may have been caused by butane vapors interacting with a dryer. Officials previously said an “active illegal narcotics manufacturing lab” was found in the home where the explosion took place on Feb. 9.
The court had previously granted Price access to speak to his two children after Assistant Public Defender Villaran successfully lobbied Judge Hwang during Price’s prior court appearance Wednesday.
The DA’s Office said that Price was not the biological father of the children.
The Feb. 9 explosion completely collapsed the 22nd Avenue home and ignited a fire that spread to neighboring buildings.
While sifting through the rubble, investigators say they found Rita Price’s corpse as well as butane tanks, ovens and, per the DA, “other materials consistent with processing hash oil with volatile solvents.”
A jar of suspected hash oil unearthed in the wreckage was found to contain acetone and other dangerous and highly flammable solvents in a crime lab test, according to the DA’s Office.
Local supervisor Joel Engardio said the incident draws attention to another aspect of San Francisco’s drug crisis: the dangers posed by drug labs.
Two GoFundMe pages have been started since the fire. One is for a family who allegedly lost everything in the fire, while the other is said to be for a caregiver who worked in the home.
Garrett Leahy can be reached at [email protected]