Fresno man killed after being released from jail on a technicality

(Corin Hoggard)
Bobby Pearson, 37, was killed about an hour after being released from jail on a technicality.
Former coworkers told Action News the suspected killer, Willie Gray worked at the Big Fresno Fair as a landscaper. They remember him as a hard worker. "I couldn't believe it. It was just pure shock. I just would have never believed it," said Stacy Rianda.

ABC30 legal analyst, Tony Capozzi believes there's a strong case Gray acted to protect himself. "Unless someone is watching this. Unless there are some witnesses to say otherwise he may have a really good defense as self-defense," said Capozzi.

But he added his attorney will have a tough time at trial. "The fact that he left the scene is the indication of consciousness of guilt. You think you did something wrong so you run away. That's allowed to come into evidence in a trial."

The bizarre chain of events started on Wednesday when a jury found 37-year-old Bobby Pearson not guilty in a burglary case. It was later found that eight jurors actually believed Pearson was guilty of the burglary, but because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the law explained to them, they entered a not guilty verdict and even confirmed it when the judge polled them.

It turns out, the jury couldn't reach a unanimous decision when it came to Pearson, but two-thirds of them thought he was guilty. Judge Kent Hamlin had read instructions to them, including one saying that if they couldn't reach a unanimous decision, they should send the judge a note and not sign any verdict forms.

"That instruction, I don't know if it was overlooked or misunderstood, but it had been explained," Linden Lindahl, defense attorney for Terrel Minnieweather -- the other defendant in the burglary trial.

According to jail records, Bobby Pearson was released from jail just before midnight on Wednesday night. About an hour later, just before 1 a.m. on Thursday morning, Fresno Police found him laying in the road in the area of Dayton and West in Central Fresno. He was taken to Community Regional Medical Center where he died from his wounds shortly after arriving.

During the investigation, police said Pearson went to his mother's house after leaving the jail and got into a fight with his sister's boyfriend Willie Gray. Police said Gray and Pearson had longstanding personal issues. They said the fight ended with Pearson laying in the road with two wounds -- one they said, looked like a knife wound, the other may be a gunshot wound. Witnesses also reported a loud pop. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

Police caught the suspect, Willie Gray, on the run about a mile away from the murder scene at an apartment complex. Officers served a search warrant there looking for evidence and they also towed a minivan, which they believe was the getaway vehicle. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said investigators seized a gun at the home where Gray was arrested.

Dyer said Gray is being treated for injuries at Community Regional Medical Center, and will face murder charges once he is booked into the Fresno County Jail.

Police are still investigating the incident.

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