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East Palo Alto man found guilty of shooting at police officers in Menlo Park

 

An East Palo Alto man was convicted Thursday, Nov. 15, of two counts of attempted murder of a police officer and other charges for shooting at three officers in Menlo Park in 2015.

Haloti Lauese, 26, faces a sentence of up to life in prison for a crime spree on April 29, 2015, that began with a home invasion robbery at an apartment building in the 39800 block of Fremont Boulevard in Fremont and ended with him shooting at Newark and Fremont officers who pursued him to Menlo Park.

But Lauese will be eligible for parole after serving 20 years because he's considered a youthful offender since he was under the age of 23 at the time of his crimes. He's scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 11.

Alameda County prosecutor John Brouhard told jurors in his closing argument on Tuesday, Nov. 13, that Lauese should be convicted of three counts of premeditated attempted murder of a police officer because Newark officers Lisa Schwerin and Jeffrey Saunders and Fremont Detective Jeff Lawrence "almost got killed" when Lauese fired at them after they chased him to Menlo Park.

But Lauese's attorney Stephen Avilla said Lauese shouldn't be convicted of premeditated attempted murder because he thinks Lauese was only shooting in the general direction of the officers as he tried to flee and didn't intend to kill them.

Jurors, who only deliberated for a day, delivered a nuanced verdict, as they only found Lauese guilty of one count of premeditated attempted murder, which was for shooting at Lawrence.

Jurors found Lauese guilty of attempted murder for shooting at Saunders but didn't find that the shots he fired at her were premeditated.

Jurors acquitted Lauese of the attempted murder charge involving Schwerin but found him guilty of three counts of assault on a police officer with a semi-automatic firearm for shooting at all three officers.

Jurors also found Lauese guilty of two counts of robbery in concert for the home invasion robbery in Fremont in which Lauese and co-defendants Demetrius Crayton and Shawn Thomas stole marijuana, a laptop, a cellphone and cash.

Thomas pleaded no contest to robbery with the special use of a firearm and Crayton pleaded guilty to one count of home invasion robbery in concert with the use of a firearm. Both men will be sentenced next year.

After the verdict, Brouhard said, "I'm very pleased with the jury's verdict because Mr. Lauese put the officers' lives in great danger."

Brouhard said he believes Lauese really wanted to kill the three officers because he aimed at them.

"Luckily he missed," Brouhard said.

— Bay City News Service

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