Man convicted of murder in death of SDPD officer

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Court, gavel, trialSAN DIEGO — A probationer was convicted Friday of second-degree murder in the 2010 shooting death of a San Diego police officer.

Alex Charfauros, 29, was also convicted of four counts of attempted premeditated murder of a peace officer. He faces multiple life prison terms when he is sentenced Sept. 23 for the killing of Christopher Wilson.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon, who argued the case on a first- degree murder theory, said he was pleased with the jury’s findings.

“Although one of our arguments was premeditated first-degree murder, we had, as we explained to the jury, multiple theories of liability, including application of natural and probable consequences doctrine,” Runyon told reporters

“This second-degree murder verdict, I think, can be interpreted to show the application of the natural and probable consequences doctrine.”

Runyon told jurors that if Charfauros had told the truth about armed people holed up in his southeast San Diego apartment nearly three years ago, Wilson may not have been killed.

The night of Oct. 27, 2010, county probation officers and U.S. marshals went to Charfauros’ apartment on South Meadowbrook Drive, Runyon told jurors.

Probation officers were checking on Charfauros and the marshals were looking for Holim Lee, who had outstanding warrants for assault with a deadly weapon and a probation violation.

A man — not the defendant — opened the door and said Charfauros wasn’t home, then slammed it shut, Runyon said. Officers forced entry into the apartment and after a while, Charfauros came crawling out of the east bedroom, according to the prosecutor.

Once outside, officers asked Charfauros if there were any guns, drugs or anyone else holed up inside, but the defendant was uncooperative, saying he was at work, then sleeping, and providing no definitive information, Runyon said.

A number of San Diego police officers were called to assist, including Wilson, who also questioned Charfauros about who and what was still in the apartment, but the defendant said he didn’t know, according to Runyon.

Once inside, a police officer kicked in the door of the west bedroom and “all hell broke loose at that point,” Runyon told the jury in his opening statement.

Wilson, a 17-year veteran and training officer, was shot in the head and died a short time later. He was 50.

A police dog was shot in the snout but survived.

Among the things Charfauros failed to tell law enforcement was that Lee and his girlfriend, Lucky Xayasene, were living in the apartment and that three guns and a shotgun were “waiting on those officers,” Runyon said.

Charfauros also failed to inform law enforcement that Patrick Luangrath and Melissa Ortiz — who are also charged with murder but will be tried separately — were in the apartment that night, according to Runyon.

After the gunfire broke out, an officer grabbed Charfauros, threw him against a wall and asked, “Why didn’t you say something? All you had to do was tell us,” Runyon told the jury.

A couple hours later, Ortiz and Luangrath emerged from the east bedroom. The bodies of Lee — believed to be the shooter — and Xayasene were found in the west bedroom with self-inflicted gunshot wounds, and guns were nearby, Runyon said.

“When they (officers) kicked in that door, they stepped into a small armory that was fired at them,” Runyon said as he urged jurors to hold Charfauros liable for Wilson’s death.

In his opening statement, defense attorney David I. Berman said prosecutors lacked the evidence to find Charfauros guilty of murder, saying Lee was responsible for Wilson’s death and that his client was wrongly accused.

Berman, in his closing argument, said mistakes by law enforcement put Wilson in harm’s way, and that Charfauros was a scapegoat because the community has to have someone to blame for Wilson’s death.


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