Coroner's inquest into shooting death underway

Coroner's inquest into shooting death underway »Play Video
WALLA WALLA, Wash. - "Was this necessary? Was his death necessary for breaking in," asked Cesar Chavira's uncle, Arturo Alejandre.

Those questions will be for a jury to decide. The coroner ordered a closer look into the May 4th shooting at the New York Store in Walla Walla.

At issue? Was store owner John Saul justified in shooting Cesar Chavira five times as he burglarized Saul's store. Chavira's family has awaited this inquest for months. This issue that has divided the town.

Chavira's mother, Camerna Alejandre said, "We expected something to happen in the beginning you know, we didn't get no results. They've been very very unfair with us. Sometimes, they don't want to talk about it. They just hide."

Dismissed juror David Driftmeyer told KEPR most of the town back's Saul's decision to shoot.

"I don't think there's any doubt on how this case is going to come out," he said.

Franklin County Coroner Dan Blasdel was called in to head up the inquest. It began with a chronology of the night.

The first witness was the first officer who arrived on the scene. He testified that he arrived to find the Chavira face down on Isaacs Street.
Items taken from the store were in a backpack nearby.

Most seats open to the public were filled by Chavira's family. His mother silently prayed throughout the court proceedings.

Camerna continued, "I do need justice for my son because I know he pay his mistake really bad, who's going to pay for his death."

Presentation of the evidence and witness testimony will continue through midday Thursday. The jury will then go behind closed doors to deliberate.

The jury has unlimited time to review the case and does not have to come to a unanimous decision on whether the shooting was justified. Just a majority vote is required.

Franklin County's coroner was asked to be the judge in the case because he is considered the expert in the state. He's been a part of just two other inquests in his career. That's more than anyone else.