FAIRFIELD — After nearly a year and a half of delays, the probable cause hearing got under way Monday for five young defendants facing murder charges for the June 2011 death of the elderly owner of the Travis Dairy.
James E. Williamson, 16, James Young, Osis “O Money” Smith, Dezmon “Young D” Frazier, each 18, and 19-year-old Chelsea Johnson have all pleaded not guilty to murder and robbery charges. While four of the five suspects were juveniles at the time of their arrest, prosecutors decided to charge all of them as adults.
The hearing, which could take as long as three days, began with five defense attorneys dissecting every movement, action and words used by the two Fairfield police officers who arrived at the East Travis Boulevard store after in the store’s owner, 70-year-old Ho Kim, called 911 reporting he had been robbed and doused with pepper spray on the night of June 28.
Sgt. Robert Lenke testified that the stench of the pepper spray in the store was strong enough to keep him and Officer Ross Hawkins from entering the store where Kim was sitting slouched in a chair in front of them, talking on a cellphone. Firefighters wearing respirators took Kim out of the store a few minutes later.
Kim, who had a long history of heart problems, died in an ambulance a short time later.
“The cause of death was he was scared to death,” Dr. Susan Hogan said, testifying about Kim’s cardiac arrhythmia. She performed the autopsy on Kim and found one the arteries in his heart had a 90-percent blockage.
Defense attorneys each took turns throughout the afternoon trying to get Hogan to shift away from her determination that Kim’s fatal heart problem was triggered by being assaulted during the robbery. Some of the attorneys tried repeatedly to get Hogan to say Kim would have died from his heart problem regardless of being robbed, assaulted and sprayed with pepper spray.
Hogan is scheduled to retake the witness stand when the hearing resumes Tuesday morning.
The robbery netted the culprits several packs of menthol cigarettes and $60.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.