By JAMES R. RIFFEL
City News Service
Four alleged members of a Skyline area car burglary ring were today ordered to stand trial for murder in connection with the 1995 shooting death of a UC San Diego professor who tried to stop a theft.
Edul Jinnah Azeez, 34; Khoi Leron Bruster, 32; Alvin Mamangun Timbol, 32, and Alvin Moreno Figuracion, 30, will also be tried for auto burglary, Judge Michael Wellington ordered following a preliminary hearing.
Timbol was identified as the gunman who shot David Hessler, who worked for the UCSD School of Medicine, on Nov. 14, 1995, retired San Diego police Detective John Tefft testified.
A fifth defendant, Buzie Gene Weimer, 33, pleaded guilty last week to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for his testimony.
In questioning the defendants earlier this year, Azeez and Weimer both identified Timbol as the one who fired at Hessler, Tefft said.
The 30-year-old victim went to investigate suspicious sounds around 2:15 a.m. outside the home he shared with his fiancee on Huggins Street in University City and chased the defendants away, Tefft said.
Tefft said Azeez admitted being the getaway driver.
"He described where one of the men in the vehicle fired back at the victim'' as they fled in his car, Tefft said.
Figuracion, who was 16 years old at the time, said Timbol later told him to "be quiet, keep your mouth shut, words to that effect.''
The defendants all lived in the Skyline area at the time and attended Morse High School, and all but Figuracion were part of a crew that committed car burglaries, Tefft said.
The youngest defendant had allegedly joined them for the first time the
night Hessler was killed, Tefft said.
Under the felony murder rule, all the defendants are liable for the murder of Hessler because they were allegedly committing a car burglary at the time.
Tefft testified that Weimer at first told investigators that Figuracion stayed in the getaway car and did not take part in the burglary.
Tefft said after Weimer reached his plea deal, he told investigators he saw Figuracion beside Hessler's car holding a screwdriver.
Wellington said that evidence against Figuracion was the "weakest and slimmest'' of the defendants, and a jury would have a basis for doubting the second version.
A review of fingerprint evidence from the crime scene led detectives to Weimer in February 2008 and the defendants were arrested in May 2009.