Assistant Admission Director pleads not guilty to counts of attempted murder, domestic violence, assault

March 6, 2019, 4:52 p.m.

An Assistant Director in Stanford’s Admission Office who was arrested Sunday pled not guilty to four charges on Wednesday afternoon, according to the San Francisco District Attorney’s (DA) office. James Shirvell, 26, allegedly stabbed his girlfriend multiple times while under the influence of LSD.

Shirvell was charged with attempted murder, domestic violence, assault with a deadly weapon and “assault with force likely to commit great bodily injury.” He is currently in custody at the San Francisco County Jail #2 in the city’s South of Market district, while his girlfriend remains hospitalized.

Shirvell was arraigned on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., during which the DA’s office filed a no bail motion due to the “egregiousness” of the alleged crimes, DA spokesperson Nikesh Patel ’10 said. His total bond was set to $1 million.

At the arraignment, it was revealed that this was the fourth time Shirvell and his girlfriend took LSD. Shirvell’s attorney Eric Safire called the stabbing an “isolated incident and really an anomaly” during his argument, multiple news sources reported.

The victim suffered multiple wounds and lacerations on her shoulder, arm, back, face and head during the stabbing, which occurred at a home in the 500 block of Kansas Street on Sunday around 12:25 a.m. Despite this, the victim’s mother read a letter on her behalf in which she wrote, in spite of what happened, that Shirvell is still “the best thing that has ever happened to [her].” The letter added that Shirvell had “pure intentions” and called the stabbing a “horrific accident.”

Prosecutor Courtney Burris, however, called the stabbing an “unprovoked random attack on his partner” and requested a no bail status for Shirvell, to which the judge, Rita Lin, consented.

“How can I be sure that he is not going to take LSD again and have another freakout?” Lin said, filing a protective order to maintain that Shirvell stays away from the victim.

If convicted of first-degree murder with premeditation, Shirvell could be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole, according to California state law. If convicted of second-degree attempted murder without premeditation, he could receive up to nine years in prison; for each felony assault, deadly weapon and domestic violence charge, he could receive up to four years in prison.

Shirvell has worked for Stanford Admission since the fall of 2016, first as an admission counselor and then as an assistant director. According to University spokesperson E.J. Miranda, Shirvell has been placed on leave while the University gathers more information about the case.

Shirvell’s next court date is March 13.


Contact Julia Ingram at jmingram ‘at’



This article has been corrected to reflect that James Shirvell was charged with attempted murder, not murder. It was also updated to include details from the events of Wednesday afternoon’s arraignment. 

Julia Ingram ’21 was The Daily's Volume 256 editor-in-chief. She is a New York City native majoring in English literature and working toward a career in news reporting. Contact her at jingram ‘at’

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