Cowan confessions could shape murder trial

April 17, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A couple confessions could help a jury decide whether a Fresno man committed murder. Tyrone Cowan is accused of killing 28-year old Efigenia Meza back in August 2007.

SWAT officers had to throw gas in Cowan's mother's home to get him out. But once he surrendered, police say he started talking about what happened and didn't seem able to stop talking.

Tyrone Cowan can be a talkative man. Whether raising his hand to talk to his attorney or speaking to an Action News reporter in an otherwise empty courtroom, Cowan seems to have a lot to say.

Fresno police say he also talked a lot right after a SWAT team coaxed him out of this home almost six years ago.

SWAT officer Andre Benson says Cowan confessed to killing Efigenia Meza as soon as he was cuffed. And then, he just kept talking.

"He continued to indicate to me that he knew he had killed her," he said. "At one point, he stated that he did not mean to kill her."

Investigators say Cowan intercepted two women crossing an empty lot, demanded their purses, and when they refused, he started shooting.

Geremias Leon was eight months pregnant and hit in the arm, but she survived. Meza was not so lucky. After he shot her in the chest and face, prosecutors say Cowan shot her point blank with this sawed-off rifle, leaving proof of an execution-style murder.

"The mark that is visible on the back of Ms. Meza's head, is that consistent or inconsistent -- in your opinion -- with this type of barrel being placed against her skull?" prosecutor Lynmarc Jenkins asked Dr. Michael Chambliss, the coroner who conducted the autopsy.

"It would be consistent," said Dr. Chambliss.

Coroners say Meza died of gunshots to the head and lung.

Hours after his arrest, Cowan was still talking and had a possible explanation for a Fresno police officer.

"If I was in a field with a rifle and accidentally shot myself in the head, got scared and pointed the gun away, not realizing my finger was still on the trigger and the gun was still firing, next thing I know, I shot two people. What can they do to me for that?"

Officer Manuel Maldonado says Cowan asked him.

Cowan's defense attorney says his client suffered a major head injury eleven years before the shooting and has no ability to plan a robbery or a murder. And as he was talking after his arrest, Cowan was also complaining about a head injury.

The trial is expected to wrap up sometime next week.


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