CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – A Filipino American was found guilty by a jury Friday (Aug. 23) of a fatal shooting of a San Diego, California police officer without firing a shot.
Alex Charfauros, 29, was found guilty of 14 felonies, including second-degree murder of 17-year-old police veteran Christopher Wilson of the San Diego police in October 2010.
Charfauros was found not guilty of count 1 first-degree murder by a jury after 28 days of trial presided over by Judge Kenneth K. So of the Superior Court of San Diego.
Two others were killed, one of them believed to have shot and killed Wilson, during the incident in a San Diego apartment as probation officers were checking on Charfauros while the marshals 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 gunshot, Charfauros was being held responsible for the murder of Wilson for not telling probation officers that there were some people inside the apartment when they asked him earlier during a probation check.
A man other than Charfauros opened the door and told probation officers that Charfauros was not home then closed the door, according to Deputy State Attorney Michael Runyon during the trial. This caused the officers to force their way into the apartment while Charfauros crawled outside the apartment.
When officers asked Charfauros if there were guns, drugs or anybody else inside, Charfauros was uncooperative, providing no information.
The probation officers called for a backup from San Diego police, including Wilson. When responding police officers asked Charfauros if there was anybody in the apartment, Charfauros said he did not know.
When officers got in the apartment, they were met by a hail of bullets, finding its mark in the head of Wilson, 50, who died shortly after. A police dog was also hit in the snout but survived.
CHARFAUROS FAILED TO TELL OFFICERS OF PRESENCE OF OTHER PEOPLE
Charfauros also failed to tell the officers that Lee and his girlfriend, Lucky Xayasene, were also 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 a.k.a. Padilla were also 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 a legal theory of liability. It says, “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 from the east bedroom.
Police found the bodies of Lee, suspected to have shot Wilson, and Xayasene, in the west bedroom with self-inflicted gunshot wounds with guns beside them.
Runyon told the jury to hold Charfauros responsible for the death of Wilson.
Charfauros knew fully well what awaits the officers in the apartment – as guns were shown by cell phone video from a meth party in the apartment the night before, 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 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 second degree murder, Charfauros was also found guilty of attempted murder upon a peace officer, Michael McLeod; attempted murder upon a peace officer Lorenzo Ruiz; attempted murder upon another peace officer, Michael Chinn; attempted murder upon another peace officer Travis Whittle; attempted to harm a police animal, causing serious injury to K-nine police dog, Monty;
Charfauros was also found guilty of health and safety code violations for possession of substance methamphetamine while armed with a loaded operable firearm; for possession for sale of a controlled substance; for possession of firearm by a felon; for conspiracy to commit crime of resisting and giving away or using controlled substance; and resisting, delaying or obstructing a peace officer.
Charfauros is due for sentencing on Sept. 23 at 8:30 a.m. before Judge So.
Luangrath, who earlier pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter (PC 192A) and PC 459/460 of the California Penal Code for second-degree burglary for the purpose of breaking and entering into a building, will be sentenced on Sept. 10.
While the separate jury trial of Ortiz starts on Oct. 25 with similar set of offenses charged against Charfauros.
Photo of Alex Charfauros. (FAXX/jGLi Photograb)