Lawsuit filed in New York Store shooting death

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WALLA WALLA — The mother of a man killed following a burglary at the New York Store last year has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against owner John Saul, who shot the fleeing intruder.

The civil complaint by Camerina Alejandre, seeking an unspecified amount of money for various claimed damages, was filed Thursday in Walla Walla County Superior Court.

Alejandre acknowledges her son, Cesar Chavira Jr., 22, was trespassing at the store at 2254 Isaacs Ave. on May 4, 2012, but says he quickly left the building when he realized he had awakened Saul, who was sleeping on a mattress on the floor.

Saul armed himself with a shotgun and, as Chavira was fleeing, started shooting Chavira after he was more than 100 feet away from the store’s entrance, according to the suit.

Saul fired the gun at Chavira’s back five times as Chavira “continuously attempted (to) distance himself from the store and the shotgun blasts to save his own life,” the suit says.

It further claims the blasts struck Chavira with about 49 pellets before he collapsed about 250 feet away from the store.

A coroner’s inquest jury in August 2012 ruled that Saul committed a justifiable homicide. Shortly after, Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle decided not to file a criminal charge against him.

In his decision, Nagle noted that the state Legislature and Supreme Court have made it clear that a person should not be charged with murder or manslaughter “when they are defending themselves, their property, or against a felony, unless the prosecution has sufficient evidence to prove the absence of any of the defenses to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.”

But the burden of proof in civil lawsuits, such as the one filed by Alejandre, is a lower standard called “preponderance of the evidence,” which means her claims must be more likely than not true for her to prevail.

The suit maintains Saul violated his duty as the owner of the store “not to commit willful or wanton misconduct against trespassers.”

As a result of Saul’s alleged wrongful assault and battery, Alejandre and Chavira’s estate want money to compensate for past and future pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress and medical and out-of-pocket expenses.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

Comments

Ropehorse 1 year ago

He was a thief, he got shot and killed while stealing, justice was served. This suit is just about greed and money. This is ridiculous.

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namvet60 1 year ago

With a rap sheet longer than a persons arm what did the family expect - a 21 gun salute? The family probably found a lawyer betting on the roll of the dice expecting the stores insurance to roll over and pay out instead of going to trial. Then the lawyer will take a 40% cut and the family will be lucky enough to have enough money left to pay for the funeral. In the meantime the stores premiums go up and the taxpayers get to pay for an un-necessary trial.

When a criminal desires to commit a crime they should expect and accept the consequences of there actions.

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barracuda 1 year ago

Right or Wrong....

This is too bad, as this is just one more way to divide our community. The last time this hit the news, it caused a lot of tension, and it seemed to be mostly right down the race line.

I wonder if this trial will be hard to seat a jury ........

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PearlY 1 year ago

Hispanic is no more a race than Irish or Italian. No need to give the 'divide and conquer' racialists any extra ways to do it.

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barracuda 1 year ago

Sorry, PearlY, Not everyone see's it your way.... Just for example, the Facebook support pages (on both sides) were very much a racial divide....

The loyalties run VERY deep............. On both sides of the issue.

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PearlY 1 year ago

Again, this is not a racial divide. I don't deny that there may be an ethnic divide, but the only loyalty should be to the truth.

And the truth under the law may be different for a criminal prosecution than it is for a civil lawsuit. The prosecutor decided, and I think he was right, that he could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Saul was not defending himself. In a civil action, the questions are different.

I'd hate to be in Mr. Saul's shoes, trying to defend this case and knowing that if I mis-spoke at trial, a criminal case could still be brought against me. But then, it should never be an easy matter to kill someone. I'm a life-time member of the NRA but that doesn't mean that when someone shoots someone else mostly in the back from 115 feet away, questions should not be asked.

Mr. Chavira was obviously not a good person, but he had not been sentenced to death by a jury of his peers. He has the same rights as any of the rest of us to have his death investigated and questioned by the law.

I really don't know who should win this case. And nobody else really does either because all of the facts haven't been laid out in a court of law.

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barracuda 1 year ago

So, in FULL DISCLOSURE: I am not a racist, nor do I care to be around these types of people!

What should be the case and what is the real world is two very different things here. Yes, in the fairy tale world, there should never be anything other than the search for the truth and justice. But so far this is not the case here.

In this case, I don't believe the loyalties lay in the truth... I watched very intently during the investigation to who was making the most noise.

In almost ALL of the comments made here (UB) and on the social media sites were straight down the "race" or "heritage" or "ethnic" or "social" line. That is stating facts from observation, not being racist etc.

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PearlY 1 year ago

barracuda, please understand I was not calling you a racist, nor do I dispute the accuracy of your observations. Maybe almost all of the comments were as you say. But right and wrong aren't decided by majority vote, and even if 99.99% of the people choose to see this as a racial issue, I can decline to join them. This is about a dead human being and another human being who killed him, and it should play out on that basis alone. I don't say that's how it WILL happen, but that is how it CAN happen.

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barracuda 1 year ago

I agree with that statement... It should be that way, but I bet history tells us differently.... But we agree, it should be a truth issue alone... nothing more, nothing less....

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fishmark54 1 year ago

Ever heard about the phrase "thick as thieves"? Look at the promoters of the justice pages. Right KD?

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chicoli 1 year ago

What's your R E A L point, fishmark? Thick as thieves, idiomatically speaking means close knit, close together, loyal. But if you're trying to be cute and are trying to hide an insult behind a pun you're as insensitive and callous as the audience who applaud your stunt. Now, go to church on Sunday, just before Christmas, and clean up your sick mind.

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Igor 1 year ago

I agree that this case has nothing to do with race. Anyone who burglarizes a home or a business takes his chances. Makes no difference what his race might be. Chivara was age 22 when he was shot. As Vietnam Vet noted, he had a record as long as your arm.

The suit is for wrongful death. Even if one assumes that John Saul should not have shot, the damages that a jury awards must be based on what Chivara’s likely estate might have been worth at the end of his working life discounted to present value.

If the case does go to trial there’s not an economist in the world that will testify that there are any economic damages and no reputable jury will give Chivara’s survivors a dime. The lawsuit is nonsense.

The U.B. should, as a public service, divulge the name of the pettifogger that filed this crazy lawsuit just so that the unsuspecting public can avoid this attorney.

But Saul's insurance company will probably cough a few grand to make the lawyer go away. The U.S. is the only country in the world that doesn't require the loser to pay the attorney fees. Wanna stop frivolous litigation? Make the looser pay!

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namvet60 1 year ago

One thing we are all missing is the reason Mr. Saul moved into the back room of this business was due to amount of break-ins he's had and he wanted to deter any more. His insurance was probably even coming down on him for the amount of previous robberies.

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Hersey 1 year ago

There are damages available to the mother other than economic damages, which she may get. Damages for noneconomic losses are damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium or companionship, and other intangible injuries.

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Igor 1 year ago

If that's the case then she should have the right to pursue those damages. I apologize to all concerned for my remarks since, if what you say is true, the suit is justified and damages should be awarded if the evidence is sufficient to result in a verdict for the survivors.

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namvet60 1 year ago

Not to argue but, the noneconomic losses are an issue but the victim is the one who loses the greatest amount just because of the insurance. If it wasn't for the insurance there probably wouldn't even be a lawsuit. And how much distress did this individual create for the business owner?

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Igor 1 year ago

True enough but if the law allows for noneconomic damages and if there is evidence that Mr. Saul acted inappropriately under the law then it would be wrong to fault the survivors or their lawyers for bringing their lawsuit.

There are no winners in these types of cases. However, as you suggest, the entire tragedy would have been averted were it not for the decedent's attempted burglary.

You raise another interesting question. Will a business owner's or home owner's policy provide a defense and indemnification in a claim involving a shooting?

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namvet60 1 year ago

It would totally rely on the lawyer - if they hired one that goes for the gusto they would play the insurance company knowing how far to push there buttons and then get a settlement out of court. The insurance companies would rather pay a certain amount before going to court and have the court set an amount and have to pay the court fees and attorney fees. The attorney's are very adept and knowing when to settle to get a secure settlement for the maximum fees that they can go to the bank with.

It's really a sad scenario but there are a lot of lawyers around such as the proverbial ambulance chasers and with particular cases such as this one we are discussing.

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Igor 1 year ago

I could not agree more. Given what lawyers charge, it's often cheaper for an insurance company to settle a case than to take it to trial even though the company will likely win. So if it's gonna cost you $30K to litigate a case and you can settle for $20K then you’ve saved the shareholders (and more importantly) the CEOs $10K. An economic waste but, under our current system, a justifiable business decision. And who pays for it? You guessed it. You and I.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against people suing for damages. But there are way too many frivolous lawsuits, especially when it comes to medical malpractice. People wonder why the cost of medical care is so high in this country? Easy! It’s because there’s no downside for a lawyer taking a frivolous med mal case because he knows that most of the time the insurance company will roll over and pay up.

We are the only country that has a well developed legal system that doesn’t require the loser to pay the other side’s attorney fees. If we scrapped this system there would be less litigation. Nothing drains us more than frivolous litigation.

And who keeps the system going? Well, you guessed it. It’s the Democrats. The Trial Lawyer organizations give more to Democrat politicians than the unions and Hollywood combined.

And almost every law that passes Congress has a little perquisite built in for the Trial Lawyers, especially in the area of “citizen suits” to enforce our environmental laws. Sue a “polluter” and you can recover thousands, if not millions, in attorney fees.

And who are the polluters? Well, you guessed it! We, the taxpayers! The taxpayers are the ones that take it in the shorts every time a trial lawyer wins another suit on behalf of a bogus “front” environmental organization. Frivolous litigation is sapping our economy like never before, especially when it comes to lawsuits against governmental entities.

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dogman12 1 year ago

Imagine that the racial identities were reversed: a latino business owner shoots a white youth. Can you honestly say that the prosecution decision would be the same? Let's acknowledge the existence of white privilege in the justice system. We have a long way to go to achieve "justice for all."

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wwguy7 1 year ago

I disagree completely with this statement. In my mind, it's pretty simple. A felony was being committed, and a business owner protected himself and his property with the use of force, which is lawful. It's doesn't matter whether either party is black, yellow, brown, white, or red.

I can tell you though that if a caucasian was the person committing the felony, there wouldn't be intimidating demonstrations in front of the store. That much I can promise.

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dogman12 1 year ago

I don't see how you are in a postion to make that promise.
Do you deny the existence of white privilege in the justice system? I believe this case needs to be aired in a courtroom in front of a fairly selected jury.
Yes, the dead man was committing a crime. That does not excuse a second crime by the store owner. The rule of law is eroded by the decision not to prosecute, and it encourages more citizens to take the law into their own hands. This is not a good direction for our society.

1

PearlY 1 year ago

Dogman, I invite you to repeat a research project I did once out of curiosity. Afraid I can't give you the details since it was one of the files that was lost when my hard drive crashed a couple of years ago, but I suspect I started with DOJ data and went from there.

I looked at the histories of those who had been sentenced to death. The exact nature of their criminal histories was not available, but one datum that was available was the number of previous felony convictions each had. It would be logical to assume that more felonies equates to more dangerous, and that if there were racial prejudice in the system, blacks sentenced to death would have been convicted of fewer felonies on average than whites. Instead, it was the other way around. Whites convicted to death had fewer felony convictions in their pasts than blacks, implying that blacks fare better when it comes to death sentences, and must commit more crimes to face the same risk of facing the death penalty. And the difference was not a small one, but quite sizable.

You assume there is white privilege, but it's no privilege to be sentenced to death. It is quite possible that many if not most judges believe as you do, and wanting to be fair, unconsciously "cut some slack" for defendants who are black or Latino, and sentence them to lighter terms on the same crimes and criminal histories. Just curious whether you would find that objectionable?

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dogman12 1 year ago

Research is good, keep it up. There are many steps in the judicial process, starting with whether to charge, and what to charge for a particular incident. (This case will never show up in your research, will it?)
The number of felonies preceding a case with a death penalty possibility is not the primary legal basis for calling for the death penalty, as far as I know. It is the facts of the case at hand, in theory, although I agreea defendant's prior record may have some bearing on sentencing recommendations. Seems to me your research correlates two coincidentally related things, and draws a faulty conclusion. Please prove that blacks and latinos receive lighter sentences on the same crimes and criminal histories. you have not done that yet.

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PearlY 1 year ago

dogman12, you're right that many things go to make up criminal sentences, and the statistics I referred to don't prove the case although they are suggestive. But I was answering your flat-out assertion of "white privilege" with a reason to question it.

I don't know whether blacks and latinos receive lighter sentences on the same crimes and criminal histories, but the fact is, neither do you. But you ASSUME they do, and convict everyone else and the judicial system of "white privilege." You are really the one who needs to prove his case, not me.

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dogman12 11 months, 3 weeks ago

What authority will you accept?

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chicoli 1 year ago

I belive this high power lawyer from Seatle will try to convince the jury that this 22 year old man was killed by multiple gunshot wounds in the back, 115 feet from the store, while running away. That he continued to receive gunshots until finally droped dead more than 200 feet from the store. The killer, rather than notify the police the night before, had taken it uopn himself to take guard with his shotgun, and waited for the first one to brake in. The victim could have been any one of our children. Even a habitual offender deserved a chance for rehabilitation after proven guilty in a court of law, and not in the "court of the street " where he was hunted and killed like a wild animal.

Any one with a remote sense of justice will find some of the comments in other postings above repulsive, disgusting and uncalled for. To insult a grieving mother with such callous, and insensitive vituperous utterances, just before Christmas, is inexcusable.

Comments such as "...nor do I care to be around these type of people" can only reside in the mind of a deluded narcissist, and in the mind of a racist in denial. To start, who on earth would care to be within 100 yards from an individual with such mentality ? Certainly not an Irishman, nor an Italian, nor a Latino, nor even a WASP! Prejudices, contempt and bigotry comes from ignorance and lack of sensitive education. As I'm not naive I alwas remmeber Oliver Wendel Holms when he said "The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour into it the more it will contract". I'll be wasting my time to preach to such people!

I only hope that Justice will finaly prevail. It will be good for the future of a fair Justice System in our beloved town!

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namvet60 1 year ago

I see your racist bigotry precedes you. I don't believe anyone here has missed your commentary.

1

chicoli 1 year ago

Who is this? Loui Gomert? Shhhh...tell I'm not here!

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fishmark54 1 year ago

Carlos Acevedo, what is your real point? And I seriously hope you don't work with the medically fragile folks.

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chicoli 1 year ago

I'm so sorry fishmark is medically fragile...but I never had the intention to work with him, never! I indeed retired 7 years ago, my friend! Who is this, by the way...Fishmak? Tell him to fizz off!

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carcrazy 1 year ago

Can you please clarify one thing for me Carlos? You say that you retired 7 years ago, but yet you continue to do locum work for the VA all across the country. Are you paid for your time, or is this pro bono publico?

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chicoli 1 year ago

Oh, you farcrazy...always hidding away, and in full camo...your heart in almost ventricular fibrilation, and all of you trembling like a little boy, full of glee while waiting for your prey. You're such a bad shot, not for lack of equipment but for lack of intelect. Your bait is so past due and cheap that tells more about your deplorable habits than about your astuteness...well, really about both. Keep hidding, my friend...one good day you'll get something! But this time I got you!

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carcrazy 1 year ago

??????? You sir, are a raving lunatic.

1

chicoli 1 year ago

Far crazy, you're always in the periphery, never contributing a thing of value, always sneaking in a posting to take a cheap shot at others. What can you expect from a shallow man who persues his thrills behind the cover of such a deserving moniker!

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carcrazy 1 year ago

¡Un muerto hablando de un ahorcado!

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barracuda 1 year ago

RE: I only hope that Justice will finaly (sic) prevail. It will be good for the future of a fair Justice System in our beloved town!

Paco, I can only hope you are not chosen to be on the jury.. as you seem to have already formed an opinion (formed from the on line Gospel truth articles printed in the UB or maybe by the FB page called Justice for Cesar Chavira ) or do you have first hand knowledge if so, Please share............

And I will ask the question again.....Do you even live in "our beloved town? "

1

PearlY 1 year ago

Paco, you misread barracuda's statement. When he said he did not "care to be around these type of people" he was talking about racists; he was saying he doesn't care to be around racists. How can it be "racism in denial" to not want to be around racists?

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barracuda 1 year ago

Pearly, He know exactly what he is doing, trying to find a scab and then pick at it!

What he is doing is proving my point! Heritage is dividing this case! Unless he has first hand knowledge of this case, (he may be related to the family, which I highly dought , and due to the fact he does not live in the WW valley) he has just formed a opinion of the case from the same news you, I and every other bystander have received.

And as I stated in my original statement, (right or wrong), it seems that those people who have formed an opinion are almost split right down the line. And it should not be that way, this is a non-race issue, it should be a truth of fact case alone!

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chicoli 1 year ago

Barracuda, Pearl is right. I ough you an apology! My jumping the gun ( no pun in here) was uncalled for. Sorry, my friend...and have a Merry Christmas!

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barracuda 12 months ago

Paco, Thanks for the Christmas gift. And I hope you have a happy holiday, too.

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clarkfamily89 1 year ago

Mr. Saul had a right to intervene with the break in however Mr. Saul crossed the line when he exited the building and hunted him down and shot him repeatedly until he fell dead. Mr. Saul didn't know who he was or if he had a rap sheet as long as his arm he was wrong when he left his store and he was wrong when he fired more than one shot. Somehow the court system cleared Saul of criminal law suits and we accept that whether we believe it is right or wrong but now Mr.Saul has a Civil Lawsuit to face and if what he did was right then the courts will agree but if they don't then Mr. Saul will pay. Mr. Saul is the winner either way because he still has a life and his family doesn't visit him at a grave site. I can tell you if the tables were turned the Hispanic man would be sitting on death row now.

1

PearlY 1 year ago

I assume you weren't there and neither was I. But the evidence given by one of the detectives seemed to say that, although Chavira was quite some distance away when Saul first shot, he was turned sideways to Saul and had some shiny belt buckles in his hand. If he was turning to face Saul and Saul mistakenly thought the object in his hand was a gun, he might have been justifie d in shooting

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clarkfamily89 11 months, 4 weeks ago

A lot of might in your story. You are right I was not there but shoot to stop someone is different than shot to kill. Mr. Saul could have called the police

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fishmark54 1 year ago

You cannot tell a story that didn't happen unless you were there. Or are you saying you were there. ( Or do you, by chance, own the mystery black PT cruiser that AC mentioned over the air?) I do believe that AC's headlights hit the NY Store 22 seconds after the panicked call by the shop owner, but I could be wrong. The media info is intended to inflame readers but the court records tell a different story. White boy (slang for Cesar's nickname of "guerro" ) would have been freed if he shot an intruder into his business. Saul has slept at the store for YEARS and most folks know that tidbit. "Hispanic" is the same as Caucasian btw (Pearl mentioned it first). Do you even know what Guerro looked like and if so, what color were his eyes? Don't bring race into the story because Walla Walla has a bunch of white boys on death row.

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clarkfamily89 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Race is what this is all about. I did not know Guerra but I know he did not deserve to be killed.

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peaches 12 months ago

mamas don't let your babies grow up to be criminals.

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chicoli 12 months ago

Peaches, you're so sweet and so motherly loving! May I recommend a good reading wich will speak to your heart, will free your soul and will improved your sensitivity? Please read "Judas's Mother" by Bobbi Sims. I believe that the substance of the book applies to both mothers...if you know what I mean! There's no better season than this one to get attuned with the whole concept of motherhood. So, good luck... and Happy New Year, Mama!

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