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.