CHICAGO – A Filipino-American was found guilty by a jury last Aug. 23 of the fatal shooting of a San Diego (California) police officer even though he did not fire a shot.
Alex Charfauros, 29, was found guilty of 14 felonies, including the second-degree murder of 17-year policeman Christopher Wilson of the San Diego police.
Charfauros was found guilty of Count 1 of second-degree murder by a jury after 28 days of trial presided over by Judge Kenneth K. So of the Superior Court of San Diego.
Aside from Wilson, two other persons were killed during a shooting incident in October 2010 at a San Diego apartment. One of the slain persons was believed to have shot and killed Wilson.[box type=”default” size=”large”]Conviction is based on the theory of legal liability [/box]The shooting broke out when probation officers were checking on Charfauros while they were looking for fugitive Holim Lee, who had outstanding warrants for assault with a deadly weapon and probation violation.
Although he did not fire a shot, Charfauros was being held responsible for the murder of Wilson for not telling probation officers that there were other people inside the apartment when they had asked him earlier.
A man opened the door and told the probation officers that Charfauros was not home, then closed the door, Deputy State Attorney Michael Runyon said during the trial. This prompted the officers to force their way into the apartment. Meanwhile, Charfauros was collared by the officers as he crawled out of the apartment.
When officers asked Charfauros if there were guns, drugs or anybody inside, Charfauros was uncooperative and refused to provide information.
The probation officers called for backup policemen from the San Diego police, one of them Wilson. When responding police officers asked Charfauros if there was anybody inside the apartment, Charfauros said he did not know.
When officers got in the apartment, they were met by a hail of bullets, hitting Wilson, 50, in the head and killing him instantly. A police dog was also hit in the snout, but survived.
Charfauros failed to tell the officers that Lee and his girlfriend, Lucky Xayasene, were inside the apartment and armed with three guns and a shotgun.
He also failed to tell the officers that Patrick Luangrath and Filipino- American Melissa Ortiz, also known as Padilla, were in the apartment.
After the shooting, an officer grabbed Charfauros and asked him, “Why didn’t you say something? All you had to do was tell us,” Runyon told the jury.
Charfauros was held accountable for the death of Wilson based on the legal theory of liability. The theory states, “When you participate in crimes with other people, you are responsible for any other crime that is a foreseeable outcome of the crimes that you’re agreeing to commit.”
After a couple of hours, Ortiz and Luangrath came out of the east bedroom of the apartment.
Police found the bodies of Lee, who was suspected to have shot Wilson, and Xayasene in the west bedroom with self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Guns were found beside the bodies.
Charfauros knew fully well what awaits the officers in the apartment as guns were shown by a cell phone video taken during a meth party in the apartment the night before, the prosecutors argued.
Charfauros’ defense lawyer David I. Berman said there was no evidence that Charfauros is guilty of murder, saying it was Lee who shot Wilson and Charfauros was not in the room when the shooting broke out.
Berman said, “Alex Charfauros is not an angel. He made a lot of mistakes in his life, but he’s not the devil either. He’s not a cop killer.”
Aside from convicting him of second-degree murder, Charfauros was also found guilty of attempted murder on peace officers Michael McLeod, Lorenzo Ruiz, Michael Chinn and Travis Whittle. He was likewise found guilty of attempting to harm a police animal, causing serious injury to K-nine police dog, Monty.
Charfauros was found guilty of other charges. These are health and safety code violation for possession of substance methamphetamine while he was armed with a loaded operable firearm; possession for sale of a controlled substance, possession of firearm by a felon; conspiracy to commit crime of resisting and giving away or using controlled substance, and resisting, delaying or obstructing a peace officer.
Charfauros will be sentenced on Sept. 23 at 8:30 a.m. before Judge So.