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Pinoy Abroad

2 Fil-Ams plead not guilty to San Diego cop’s murder

Two Filipino-Americans have pleaded not guilty to the fatal shooting of a police officer in San Diego, California in October last year and are set to face the court again on August 23. Fil-Ams Alex Charfauros and Melissa Ortiz were charged together with Patrick Luangrath with 13 felonies including the murder of 17-year police veteran Chris Wilson. The 26-year-old Charfauros, 21-year-old Ortiz and 19-year-old Luangrath were also charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and other drug and gun-related charges, the Asian Journal reported. All three accused pleaded not guilty on arraignment last July 26. Although the two Fil-Ams did not fire any guns during the shootout where Wilson got killed, they were charged as accomplices to the crime, and state law allows them to be charged in his death. Those convicted of murder in California face up to 25 years-to-life in prison. “Officer Wilson’s death shook the community and reminded us all about the daily dangers faced by law enforcement in San Diego. The criminal charges filed today are the first step in holding the defendants accountable for their conduct that evening," District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in a statement. The court set bail for Ortiz and Luangrath at $2 million each, but Charfauros is being held without bail. Their next court hearing is on August 23. ‘Hiding out’ during shoot-out Investigation showed US Marshals and county probation officers went to Charfauros’ apartment looking for fugitives Holim Lee, 30, and Lucky Xayasene, 27. Upon seeing the officers coming, Charfauros immediately tried to flee out a bedroom window. But officers arrested him and when they asked him if there were any more people, guns or drugs inside the apartment, Charfauros said he didn’t know. But officers who opened the door in another bedroom were fired upon, resulting in a shootout in the apartment. Four people were inside that bedroom including Lee and Xayasene, along with four loaded handguns and a shotgun. Wilson was fatally wounded. A Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team surrounded the apartment and a seven-hour standoff began. Ortiz and Luangrath surrendered a few hours later and said they had been hiding in a bedroom closet. But Lee and Xayasene took their own lives. Investigators found later that the bullet that struck Wilson was fired from a handgun found near Lee’s body. — MRT/KBK, GMA News
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