Jury Finds Man Guilty For Professional Execution
News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 17, 2019
SFDA CONTACT: Alex Bastian (415) 553-1931 | Max Szabo (415) 553-9089
JURY FINDS MAN GUILTY FOR PROFESSIONAL EXECUTION
SAN FRANCISCO — Today, District Attorney George Gascón announced that Zuri Wilson, age 42, of Richmond, was found guilty of 1st degree murder with special circumstance allegations for lying in wait. Wilson was also found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
“A dangerous man has been taken off the streets, and we’re all safer for it,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “Violence simply has no place in our community.”
According to court records, on Friday, August 23, 2013 at approximately 7:02 p.m., the Defendant executed the victim, Shawnte Otis, in cold blood by shooting him several times as he unsuspectingly knelt near the passenger’s side of his car. Defendant committed this murder after he had been lying in wait for over an hour in a vacant housing unit across from where Mr. Otis often stayed. At the time of the shooting Mr. Otis was unloading items from his rental car when two masked men rushed out of a housing unit located at 129 Blythdale Avenue, ran up and shot him several times in the head and back. The shooters immediately fled south through a courtyard and a large hole in a fence that led out to Carrizal Avenue. A witness testified that she saw the two men enter and flee in a Nissan Altima.
Video surveillance played during trial captured a Nissan Altima two hours prior to the homicide in the area around where Mr. Otis was ultimately executed. It also depicted Defendant Wilson operating the vehicle. The surveillance video further shows a window shade on the second floor periodically moving as the shooter conducted surveillance. A review of Defendant’s cellular phone indicated that the phone was in the area of the Sunnydale Projects, consistent with the location of the homicide. Defendant’s call detail records also indicated that Defendant’s last completed call in the Sunnydale area ended at 6:58:12 pm.
At 7:00:52 pm, surveillance footage shows the victim on video walking from 151 Blythdale towards his car, at which point the second floor window shade inside of the location where Defendant was lying in wait moves. At 7:01:17 pm, less than thirty seconds after the victim is seen on the video, the shooters ran out of 129 Blythdale, murder the victim, and flee towards Carrizal Avenue.
Within 6 weeks of the homicide, an arrest warrant for Defendant was obtained for this murder. On the evening of October 3, 2013, SFPD was conducting surveillance in the area of 5011 Montoya Avenue in San Pablo. They saw Defendant exit an apartment building on the bottom floor. The next day, on October 4, 2013, SFPD SWAT served a search warrant at the same location in a planned attempt to arrest Defendant on the homicide warrant. During this search warrant service, Defendant was briefly able to avoid arrest and escaped out the rear of the apartment. Defendant avoided arrest for approximately an hour and was later arrested at San Pablo BART Station with approximately $14,000 in cash.
The following pieces of evidence were located at the residence where the warrant service was made:
- A mask identical, or remarkably similar, to that worn by Defendant during the murder;
- A beanie identical, or remarkably similar, to that worn by Defendant during the murder;
- Button-down khaki shirts identical, or remarkably similar, to that worn by Defendant as he surveilled the area just one hour and forty-five minutes before the murder;
- The second shooter’s gun;
- The same brand of .45 caliber ammunition that was used to murder Shawnte Otis; and,
According to court records, defendant is a person of interest in several Bay Area homicides and has prior convictions for being a felon in possession of a firearm, as well as being a felon in possession of a silencer and ammunition.
“While I’m pleased with the verdict and the fact our community is now safer, we must remember that a family lost a son and will never be whole again,” said ADA Omid Talai. “Their painful and vigilant presence in the courtroom served as a constant reminder of how important it was to put Shante’s murderer behind bars. I’m grateful that the jury held this man accountable for his actions, and for the tireless work of SFPD Lt. John Burke.”
Defendant Wilson faces life without the possibility of parole. The Honorable Bruce Chan presided. This successful prosecution is due to an excellent investigation by SFPD Lt. John Burke. Special thanks go to Paralegals Jessica Diamond and Tony Yu, Victim Advocate Jovan Thomas, IT Support Specialist Morris Moore and D’Andre Lewis. Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai prosecuted the case.