SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – A San Jose jury Wednesday found a man guilty of first-degree murder in the 2008 fatal shooting of an attorney his deceased wife’s family had hired in a wrongful death suit against him.
It was the second time 53-year-old Jason Cai had been put on trial in the July 1, 2008 shooting of 32-year-old Xia Zhao.
Following the jury’s two days of deliberation, many of those who showed up to hear Wednesday’s verdict could be heard saying “yes” or sighing with relief, including the victim’s friend, Eric Zhang, of China, who said that after four years, he feels like “justice has finally been served.”
KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:
Zhao was shot shortly before 10 a.m. as she arrived at her office parking lot on Hamilton Avenue in San Jose.
Cai’s earlier trial had ended in 2010 with a deadlocked jury, Deputy District Attorney Brian Welch said.
In addition to murder, the jury Wednesday found Cai guilty of a special-circumstance allegation of lying in wait. The special-circumstance conviction means Cai will not be eligible for parole, Welch said.
Cai will be sentenced on May 24.
Welch said that he believes hearing Cai testify helped push the jury toward convicting him.
Outside the courtroom, some jurors embraced Zhao’s tearful husband Kevin Schwarckopf and discussed the roughly five-week trial.
Juror Jody Jochheim said she thought Cai “felt as if he was above everybody else.”
Jury forewoman Mary Goray said that one of the things that struck her was the lack of character witnesses brought forth by the defense.
Another juror, Jacky Failner, said that although jurors had been swayed toward a guilty verdict by the time their deliberations started, they maintained an unbiased approach “to make sure that justice was served.”
Cai was also tried for murder in connection with the death of his wife in 2003. In 2006, a Santa Clara County jury acquitted him of the murder of Ying Deng, his second wife, who was found drowned in the pool of their Cupertino home. Jurors in that case deadlocked on a manslaughter charge.
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)