One of our clients, Thomas Francis Burke (a San Diego pharmacist) faced first-degree murder with gun allegations after he fatally shot his roommate’s boyfriend (Jess Michael Robles) on his condominium doorstep in 2016. Mr. Burke entered a not guilty plea and maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings. Mr. Burke, through counsel, presented evidence at trial that he acted in perfect self-defense when he fired two shots at Jess Robles.
Mr. Burke did not receive an offer before trial; he faced a possible prison term of 50 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder with the use of a gun. At trial, the prosecutor argued that Burke was jealous of Robles and was obsessed with his roommate Larae Clark who was dating Robles at the time of the shooting. Witness testimony and text messages suggested that Robles was drunk, angry, and had threatened Burke just before the shooting.
On the night of the shooting, Burke’s roommate was in the process of grabbing her belongings to spend the night with Robles while he waited for her in the Lyft. Burke testified that he followed the roommate down the stairs leading to the front door demanding that she return her key to the condominium after receiving threatening messages from her boyfriend Robles. As she knelt down to leash her dog, Robles knocked (or banged) on the door.
According to criminal defense attorney, David Silldorf, when the door opened Robles locked eyes with Burke and dropped into a “fighting stance.” At that moment, Burke felt he was in danger of serious bodily injury or death and fired shots as Robles came through the door. Criminal defense attorneys David Silldorf and Gary Gibson argued Burke acted lawfully and in self-defense when he prevented an intruder from gaining further entry into his home causing damage to himself or his residence.
The jury ultimately found Burke was not guilty of first or second-degree murder. The jury convicted Burke of voluntary manslaughter—a lesser included offense. At least one juror has suggested that while his actions did not amount to murder, that Burke unreasonably used deadly force and acted in imperfect self-defense. Voluntary manslaughter carries a possible sentencing range of 6-21 years in custody.
If you’re in need of an aggressive San Diego criminal defense attorney, give us a call. Our experienced lawyer has devoted his career to representing people charged with a variety of crimes. He has helped thousands of people accused of criminal offenses in both federal and state courts. Contact us or fill out our online form to schedule a free initial consultation today.