The jury will begin deliberations today to decide if Turlock resident Robin Boyer is guilty of murder for fatally shooting Brandon Pacheco after finding him on his property.
The conclusion of the case came after Boyer decided to testify in his own defense and tell the jurors his version of the events that happened July 23, 2013.
Boyer, 62, is facing charges of first-degree murder and two felony counts of assault with a firearm for the death of Pacheco. The jury could decide to convict Boyer on a lesser charge of second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter.
There is no doubt that Boyer fired the fatal shot that claimed the life of the 25-year-old man, but the two sides have different theories as to motivation and the circumstances of the encounter.
The shooting occurred shortly before 8 a.m. July 23, 2013 on a berm near Boyer’s home in the 1100 block of Dianne Drive. Both Boyer’s home and that of his mother, which is next door, had been the scene of recent thefts and in some of those thefts family members saw a man speeding away from the properties on a motorbike.
Boyer had told Turlock Police investigators that he spotted a man, later identified as Pacheco, on his property that morning and that he went to retrieve his shotgun and a cell phone. In an audio interview with Turlock Police Detective Brandon Bertram, Boyer said he got his shotgun because he “wanted to scare the hell out of him.”
Boyer testified during the trial that he confronted Pacheco on the dirt berm and got his attention by chambering a round in the shotgun. Boyer said Pacheco told him "I'm not thieving” and moved to get on his motorbike. Boyer said he ordered Pacheco to get on the ground, but instead Pacheco revved the motorbike, so Boyer fired a warning shot into the ground, according to Boyer’s testimony.
The defense claims that Pacheco was behaving as if he was high on methamphetamine during this encounter and that Boyer was fearful for his own safety, especially when Pacheco was revving the motorbike as he faced Boyer.
In his interviews with the investigators, Boyer stated Pacheco was in the process of turning the bike around when he took aim over his head and fired the second shot. On the stand, Boyer testified that Pacheco was still facing him and revving the motorbike when he fired the second shot.
Under cross-examination Boyer stated the raised gun was blocking his view of Pacheco and that he could not tell if the motorbike was moving at the time. He also testified he could not see the wagon full of stolen batteries that was attached to the back of the motorbike. The prosecution stated in the opening statement that they suspected the wagon with the batteries was weighing the motorbike down and this was hampering Pacheco from leaving the area.
Boyer testified that after firing the second shot he heard Pacheco say “You shot me” before slowly slumping to the ground. Boyer told the investigators and testified in court that Pacheco didn’t appear to have any signs of life and so he went back to his home to let them know what had transpired. He said he didn’t use his cell phone to call for emergency response because his hands were too shaky.
Pacheco was struck in the back and the back of his head by five of the nine shotgun pellets. On Jan. 25, the jury heard from Dr. Sungook Baik, a forensic pathologist that performed the autopsy on Pacheco. He testified that based on the injuries, it likely would have been between 10 to 20 minutes before Pacheco died. He also testified that the methamphetamine in Pacheco’s system could have hastened his death by a few minutes or seconds. He stated Pacheco likely would have lived had he gotten immediate medical attention.
Boyer testified that he was fearful for his life and believed Pacheco was going to run him over with the motorbike, a notion that Deputy District Attorney John Mayne scoffed at during his closing argument.
“He wants to tell you a new, better and improved story,” Mayne told the jury.
In re-direct questioning from his defense attorney Kirk McCallister, Boyer said that he was very shaken by the incident and that in his initial interviews with the investigators there was “no way [he] could have articulated everything that happened that day.”
Mayne told the jury in his closing argument that Boyer’s actions were those of a man frustrated over recent thefts and wanting to put an end to them.
“Robin Boyer didn’t want him to leave,” Mayne said. “He didn’t want him getting away. He didn’t want him coming back and stealing his stuff. He wanted him gone for good.”
McCallister’s closing argument stressed to the jury that Boyer’s actions were not done out of anger, but rather self-defense.
“They want you to believe Mr. Boyer was angry,” McCallister said. “It’s the lynchpin that holds their whole case together, but it doesn’t hold water.
“He thought he was going to be run over,” McCallister continued. “That’s the backbone of all of this.”