Dan Blasdel, Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel listens as Walla Walla County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Gabe Acosta questions potential jurors during the opening this morning of a coroner's inquest into the shooting death of Cesar Chavira.
Photo by Andy Porter.
Walla Walla A coroner’s inquest jury has found John Saul committed a justifiable homicide when he shot Cesar Chavira to death in early May.
The jury had been deadlocked after deliberating for about an hour Thursday afternoon but concluded its work this morning.
The jury had been tasked with determining if Saul was justified when he fired five rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun, killing Chavira outside Saul’s business, the New York Store on Isaacs Avenue.
Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Gary Bolster, the lead investigator in the case, gave expert testimony Thursday on shotgun ballistics and the distances the weapon had been fired, striking Chavira.
“I see the first pellets probably striking at a distance of probably 120 feet,” Bolster said, adding later pellets likely were fired from roughly 155 feet, over 50 yards.
Forensic Pathologist Dr. Daniel Selove, who testified late Thurday morning, explained as many as 49, .24 caliber shotgun pellets had struck Chavira primarily from the rear, injuring both lungs and his aorta, causing rapid internal bleeding.
Testimony from Walla Walla Police Officers Wednesday indicated Saul, who had been sleeping in the rear of the New York Store, woke up when Chavira broke into the western wear store and stole several belts and silver belt buckles from a display case at the front of the store.
Saul, who did not testify during the inquest, told police shortly after the shooting that Chavira threatened him, and Saul defended himself. Bolster testified that Saul fired the five shotgun rounds from the front door of the store.
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