March 19, 2015



City News Service  


Two men -- one accused of being a lookout and the other an alleged getaway driver -- were not present for two fatal shootings during a botched San Juan Capistrano jewelry store heist, but they should be held accountable for murder, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday. The cases against Alan Keith Hunter, 42, of Moreno Valley, and James Stephan Paschall, 44, of Gardena, involve a rare prosecution of the legal theory of ``provocative murder,'' that can hold a defendant accountable for a killing if their actions spurred someone else to take deadly action, Senior Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons said.


Their attorneys said the two men cannot be held responsible for the fatal shootings because they did take actions that escalated the violence. They are accused in the June 24, 2011, fatal shootings of Robert Earl Avery and Desmond Brown, both 39-year-old Los Angeles residents, at Monaco Jewelers at 33955 Doheny Park Road. Avery, dressed in combat fatigues and wearing sunglasses, was buzzed into the locked store about 11:15 a.m. by the owner's son, Jason Gulvartian Jr., Simmons said.


He took some interest in watches in the display cases before pulling a gun on the store's owner, the prosecutor added.


``Jason Jr. will tell you he was in fear for his life,'' Simmons said. ``He immediately dropped to the ground and hid behind a safe.''


The store's manager, Ron Pashian, had an ``uncomfortable feeling'' about Avery so he warned his boss, the business owner, Jason Gulvartian Sr., to ``keep an eye on this,'' Simmons said.


Pashian was opening a drawer where he had a gun stashed when Avery started rushing toward him in the back of the store, Simmons said. Avery grabbed the store manager by the shoulder and held the gun up to his chest and then his head, but before he could do anything else the store owner opened fire with his own gun, Simmons said. Avery tumbled to the floor, taking Pashian down with him, Simmons said.


Brown started rushing the back of the store, drawing gunfire from Gulvartian Sr. before the store owner shouted, ``I'm out of bullets,'' Simmons said. That prompted Pashian to grab his own gun and open fire on Brown, Simmons said. The manager's weapon jammed, however, because it had the wrong size bullets in it as he aimed at a third robber, Simmons said.


That third alleged robber is co-defendant Eddie Clark Jr., 30, who will receive a plea deal after the trial as part of the resolution of his father's case, Simmons said. Eddie Clark Sr., 53, has agreed to testify for the prosecution, Simmons said. Clark Jr. ran for the door after his two cohorts were gunned down, Simmons said.


Pashian kicked the gun away from Avery, and Gulvartian Sr. put it in a towel and took it to the rear of the store until authorities arrived, Simmons said. Part of the case against Hunter will be made on his DNA left on a phone left behind at the crime scene, Simmons said. Brown's phone records showed calls to Hunter and Paschall at the time of the robbery, Simmons alleged.


A Toyota Camry the crew stole for the heist and dumped near the crime scene had Paschall's DNA in it, Simmons alleged. Hunter was the lookout and Paschall was the getaway driver, Simmons alleged. Another co-defendant, George Anthony Boozer, 39, has accepted a plea deal to testify against Paschall and Hunter, Simmons said.


Hunter's attorney, Michael J. Curls, noted that Brown was unarmed in the robbery and never carried a gun during his crimes because the potential punishment was far greater with a weapon involved. Curls also claimed that Brown was shot in the back, indicating part of his argument against the provocative act legal theory.


``It raises a question about what kind of menace Mr. Brown posed,'' Curls said.


The killing of Avery does not apply to the legal theory because he was the provocateur, Curls said.


``His conduct results in his own death,'' Curls said.


Boozer is a ``professional liar and a thief,'' who has grown accustomed to a life of ``extravagance,'' Curls said. Curls described Boozer as the ``mastermind'' of the robbery.


``The evidence will not show my client was present,'' Curls said.


Clark Sr. saw an ``opportunity to do penance'' and help his son with plea deals, Curls said.


``Snitches are thieves who become liars who look for opportunities,'' Curls said. ``The minute (Boozer) was picked up the first words he uttered were he wanted to cooperate and he wanted to get a deal.''


Paschall's attorney, Wayne Higgins, said his client ``was not in the jewelry store the date of the incident.'' Boozer, who pleaded guilty May 22, 2013, to assault with a semiautomatic firearm and five counts of attempted second-degree robbery, all felonies, is expected to be sentenced to 12 years and four months in prison, Simmons said. Clark Sr. pleaded guilty Dec. 12 to four counts of attempted second- degree robbery and assault with a semiautomatic firearm and is expected to be sentenced to 10 years in prison. His son is expected to receive the same deal, Simmons said.

Category: News