A Stanislaus County Superior Court judge ruled there is enough cause to hold a Turlock property owner over for trial on a murder charge for the fatal shooting of a man caught trespassing on his property.
In making his ruling, Judge Ricardo Cordova said the prosecution had shown enough evidence to believe Robin Boyer acted with implied malice when he shot 25-year-old Brandon Pacheco on July 23, 2013.
A preliminary hearing was held Friday to determine if the District Attorney’s Office had enough cause and evidence to hold Boyer over for trial on the murder charge lodged against him. The prosecution contends that Boyer’s actions during his encounter with Pacheco went beyond the scope of defending his property and that he acted with a disregard for human life.
Boyer’s defense attorney, Kirk McAllister argued Boyer never had any intention of killing Pacheco and that his death was a tragic accident that was put into motion by Pacheco’s attempts to steal items off of Boyer’s property.
“It was a tragic event, but not one that was intended by Mr. Boyer,” McAllister said. “He thought he shot over his head.”
On the morning of July 23, 2013, the Turlock Police Department was dispatched to a home in the 1100 block of Dianne Drive for a report of a shooting.
Turlock Police Officer Sergio Perez testified Friday he was the first officer to find Pacheco. He said he found him on a dirt berm about 40 yards away from the property line and next to a sweet potato field.
Perez testified he could see that Pacheco had suffered a wound to the back of his head and that he was not conscious. His body was on the ground, tangled up in his motorbike.
Emergency medical technicians were called to the scene, but they were unable to help Pacheco and he was pronounced dead.
A forensic pathologist testified Pacheco had been hit with shotgun pellets in the back of his head, shoulders and back, and that he died from a loss of blood, which would have taken anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. A toxicology test showed Pacheco had methamphetamine in his system at a level deemed intoxicating by the forensic pathologist and that the narcotic would have sped up his heart rate, causing him to bleed out faster.
Boyer spoke with Turlock Police Detective Brandon Bertram at length following the incident and told him he had been having problems with thefts recently. Bertram testified on Friday that Boyer told him about two occasions in which a man on a motorbike had come to the property and stolen items. He said his son-in-law had dug a hole in the berm and covered it was some palm leaves in the hopes they would be able to disable the motorbike and catch the thief. Boyer said he also had been carrying zip ties in the event they caught the thief they would be able to hold him until the police arrived.
Bertram testified that Boyer told him he suspected someone was on the property that morning, so he went out to a two-story structure to take a look. From that vantage point he saw a man, later identified as Pacheco, loading some old car batteries into a Radio Flyer wagon. Boyer told the detective he went back into his home and retrieved his shotgun and his cell phone, according to Bertram’s testimony.
Boyer confronted Pacheco on the berm by first racking the shotgun and ordering him onto the ground. Boyer told the detective that Pacheco said “I’m not thieving” and got on his motorbike, which was facing Boyer. Pacheco started the motorbike up and moved forward, which is when Boyer fired his weapon for the first time. Boyer told the detective he aimed the blast about five yards in front of the motorbike’s front tire.
The shell casing from the first shot was found about 90 feet from Pacheco’s body, indicating where Boyer was standing when he first fired.
Bertram testified that Boyer told him Pacheco stood up and turned the motorbike around so that he was now facing away from Boyer. Boyer told the detective that he wanted to “scare the hell out of the man” so he fired the second shot.
In his interview with the detective, Boyer recounted seeing Pacheco slump over the motorbike and then collapse to the ground. Boyer told the detective that he approached Pacheco and heard him say “you shot me.”
Boyer went back to his home where he encountered some of his family, including his brother-in-law Richard Haile. Turlock Police Detective Sgt. Michael Morgan interviewed Haile following the shooting and testified about the information Haile provided to investigators. Haile said he saw Boyer walking up to the home and heard him say, “I shot the (expletive).” Haile told Morgan he and Boyer walked back to the berm, saw Pacheco’s body, returned back to the house and asked Boyer’s wife to call 911.
Boyer never used his cell phone to call 911, Bertram said.
Haile told the investigator that Boyer seemed very shaken by the incident and was “on the verge of tears” and had a “look of loss on his face.”
Bertram testified that Boyer was visibly upset during the interview and that he was trembling, shaking and that his voice was cracking. Bertram also testified that Boyer repeatedly said, “I can’t believe it” and “I’ll have to live with this for the rest of my life.”
In submitting the case to the judge, Deputy District Attorney John Mayne said the evidence showed Boyer acted with implied malice and that the circumstances didn’t support a defense of property.
“He fired a shotgun to the back of this man’s head over some old batteries,” Mayne said.
After the judge’s ruling McAllister attempted to have the $1 million bail for Boyer reduced, but the judge said that while Boyer may be remorseful about his actions, he didn’t see a justification for lowering the bail. Boyer has been held in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail since his arrest on March 6, 2015.
Boyer will next be in court for a formal arraignment on the murder charge with the enhancement of using a firearm at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 28.