Pharmacist accused of fatally shooting roommate’s boyfriend to be tried for murder

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Thomas Burke was emotional in court on Nov. 7, 2016.


SAN DIEGO —  The man accused of shooting his roommate’s girlfriend was visibly shaken in court Monday as several witnesses testified.

Several witnesses testified about the fatal shooting of 35-year-old Jess Robles, including a Lyft driver, a former neighbor, a police officer and one of the former pharmacist’s roommates.

Lyft driver Edgar Ramirez Balbuena drove the victim and his girlfriend to 32-year-old Thomas Burke’s home on June 22. He said he dropped off his girlfriend at Burke’s condo so she could pick up a few personal items and heard an altercation.

“The next thing I heard maybe a couple seconds after is gunshots,” said Lyft driver, Edgar Ramirez-Balbuena.

And he wasn’t the only one.

“At that point somebody was just laying down, and then we called 9-1-1,” said Burke’s former neighbor, Carlos Sanchez. “We heard the gunshots and then my wife immediately woke up and I kind of pushed her down because we’re pretty close, like so we just peeked through blinds.”

Prosecutors say Burke shot Robles in the throat and chest for no reason when the victim showed up at Burke’s door in the 4100 block of Voltaire Street around 11:15 p.m.

The defense says it was self defense after Robles threatened Burke for kicking his girlfriend out.

“What did you see outside the front door? Jess was on the ground and Loray was over him,” said Burke’s former roommate Theresa Davidson.

Davidson testified that prior to the shooting Burke texted her that he had kicked their roommate out and that her boyfriend Jess sent him upsetting text messages.  She was shocked when Burke called her minutes later.

“He said, ‘I just shot TJ. I’m probably going to jail,'” Davidson said

“Did he just say he shot TJ or he just shot Jess? What did you do when he told you that?” the attorney asked Davidson.

“I asked him to repeat himself… [and he said] ‘I just shot Jess, I’m probably going to jail,'” said Davidson of her alleged phone conversation with Burke.

After the shooting, Burke met up with another pharmacist and went to downtown San Diego, where he was later arrested.

Burke will be back in court Nov. 28 for arraignment. He faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted of murder and the use of a gun.