Coroner's inquest into Cesar H. Chavira shooting death

Inquest at a glance

Chavira, 22, was shot about 2:30 a.m. May 4 by John Saul, the owner of the New York Store, after Chavira broke into the business at 2254 Isaacs Ave.

Saul, armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, reportedly fired several rounds. Chavira was struck by multiple pellets and was found across the street near a bicycle.

He was taken to Providence St. Mary Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead about an hour later.

Officials said Chavira was stealing belt buckles and belts inside the store — which also is Saul’s home — when Saul confronted him.

Saul’s attorney, Michael Hubbard, told the Union-Bulletin that Saul heard the front door glass break, armed himself with the shotgun and verbally confronted Chavira in the darkness. Saul started shooting after Chavira replied that he was going to kill Saul, according to Hubbard, who said the killing is a clear case of self-defense.

The six-person inquest jury is to determine if Chavira’s death came about by criminal means.

The panel’s verdict will be based on a standard of proof known as “the balance of probabilities,” which means the jury will hear the evidence and determine whether it’s more probably true than not true the death was caused by a criminal act.

The inquest is not a trial. It’s a fact-finding hearing to lay out sworn evidence in a public manner to the community.

The verdict will not obligate Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle to file or not to file a criminal charge against Saul.

If Nagle decides to file a charge, he will have to prove the case — including the absence of self-defense — “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is a significantly higher standard than the balance of probabilities.

The inquest, conducted at the Walla Walla Police Department, 54 Moore St., is scheduled to last into Friday.


Gabriel Acosta: Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Walla Walla County. Acosta will present the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office report on the investigation into the shooting death of Cesar Chavira.

Cesar Chavira: The 22-year-old man who was shot and killed during a break-in at the New York Store in May.

John Saul: Owner of the New York Store who admittedly shot Chavira with a 12-gauge shotgun.

Camerina Alejandre: Mother of Cesar Chavira.

Richard Greenwood: Walla Walla County Coroner. Greenwood called for the inquest and will assist during the proceedings.

Dan Blasdel: Franklin County Coroner who is presiding over the inquest at the request of Greenwood.

Edward Freyer: Walla Walla County Undersheriff. Freyer led the investigation into the shooting death of Chavira.


harleydude1979 2 years, 7 months ago

Yes Mr Chaviro should have never broke into Mr Sauls store period and with his criminal record i am almost certain he would have went to the pen and paid for this crime.My issues are that when chaviro was confronted by Mr Saul and his shotgun he exited the store fleeing knowing Mr saul was in pursuit with his gun and in my opinion he was not a threat to Mr Saul what so ever at that point Mr saul took it upon himself to open fire on Mr Chaviro who was well over a 100ft from him and well into the street with his back to Mr Saul making his get away now how does one say that is self defense it is not every round hit Chaviro in the back if it were another citizen other than Mr Saul who has a long arm in this town they would have been jailed immediatley end of story Mr Saul made a big mistake and let moment get the best of him he had every right to feel violated and angry but to kill Chaviro was wrong what was in his head to shoot a fleeing Burglar but lets let justice run its course !!!!!


mytwocents 2 years, 7 months ago

Chavira stated that he was going to kill Saul. At that point it's kill or be killed. Saul didn't know if chavira was armed,one would think that in the commission of that type of crime,that he would have been,and presuming he was armed,he could have turned back on Saul at any point. Yes,fear got the better of Saul, but he would not have been forced to shoot anyone,if someone had not put him in that position to begin with.


harleydude1979 2 years, 7 months ago

I do not agree that it was a kill or be killed i believe that when saul confronted him chavira hooked them up and fled when chavira finally went down he was approx a 160 ft to 190ft from Saul thats hardly kill or be killed to make that distance he certainly was not walking it is very sad that Mr saul may have to answer to it for protecting his store he went way far and beyond than what he needed to yes Chavira put mr saul in that situation and chavira got more than he bargained for no doubt but you just cannot shoot people in the Back if it would have ended in the store we would not be blogging about this


katijo 2 years, 7 months ago

I can promise you that if someone breaks into my home, they are at risk of great personal injury. I have said before and I say again...don't stop shooting until they stop running. That guarantees that theywont be coming back to cause further damage or harm.


teakajoy 2 years, 7 months ago

It seems that the law does state that if the death is resulting from comitiing a felony on the slayer in the place of his residence its justifyable. The kid broke in comitting a felony and tho he was on his way , he was killed. Technically I see this. Sauls adrelian was probly way over the top and a rational decsion at that point is not even able to manifest. Rationally speaking a person would at that point let the kid go and hope the cops get him. But an individual scared out of his mind and adrelian pumping wouldnt probly go there. Had the kid not broken in he would be alive. I think its one of those sad bunch of events that add up to a horrific end for so many involved. But the blame lies on the kid for breaking an entering. You get what you get at that point. Sometimes crime dosn't pay.


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