On Thursday, a man from Compton was convicted of carrying out an ambush-style attack.
It has been slightly over three years since the patrol vehicle was ambushed, leaving the officers inside wounded.
After a little over two days of deliberation, Deonte Lee Murray, who is 39 years old, has been found guilty of 10 counts, including two counts of attempted murder of a peace officer. This is in relation to the attack on Deputies Claudia Apolinar and Emmanuel Perez-Perez that occurred on September 12, 2020. The said attack was caught on surveillance video outside a Compton transit center.
In addition to the charges of possession of a firearm by a felon, the jury found Murray guilty of attempted murder, assault with a semiautomatic firearm, carjacking, and robbery.
Deputy District Attorney Stephen Lonseth has revealed that Murray could potentially face life imprisonment. The sentencing is currently scheduled for Oct. 16 in a Compton courtroom.
During the trial, the prosecutor emphasized that Murray was responsible for the shooting of four individuals, three of whom he attempted to kill. The two sheriff’s deputies were among those he targeted, and the prosecutor made it clear that this was not a spur of the moment decision.
According to Lonseth, Murray expressed disbelief that the deputies had survived after the incident.
During the trial, the prosecutor accused Murray of intentionally trying to kill Claudia Apolinar and Emmanuel Perez-Perez, stating that he made every possible effort to end their lives. The prosecutor made it clear that this was not a sudden or impulsive act on Murray’s part.
According to the department, the second Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputy who was ambushed in Compton has been discharged from the hospital. This news came on Monday, and it is a positive development in the ongoing investigation into the violent attack. We can only hope that both deputies make a full recovery and that justice is served for this senseless act of violence.
Lonseth expressed how the survival of the two individuals was nothing short of a miracle. He credited the heroic efforts of Apolinar who, despite sustaining injuries to her jaw and arms, tried to assist her partner.
During the opening statement in August, the prosecutor had asserted that Murray was driven by a desire for revenge after his best friend, Sam Herrera, was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies in Compton on September 10, 2020. This incident occurred just two days before the ambush of Apolinar and Perez-Perez. The prosecutor alleged that Murray had “lost it” and acted upon his anger towards law enforcement.
According to Lonseth, Murray repeatedly fired at a man whom he believed to be a detective in an unmarked car near the Compton courthouse on September 10, 2020. He then fled the scene in a black Mercedes-Benz, which had been carjacked nine days prior from a man who had been shot in the leg with a rifle.
According to the prosecutor, the accused individual was taken into custody on September 15th, 2020, after a police chase. During the chase, the person threw a “ghost gun” from the Toyota Solara they were driving before escaping into a nearby neighborhood. After a search, they were found hiding under a chicken coop in a resident’s backyard. It is alleged that this individual left a Mercedes-Benz near an elementary school.
According to authorities, the weapon used to shoot the sheriff’s deputies was a .40-caliber gun, as confirmed by ballistics testing.
During the trial, Murray’s defense attorney, Kate Hardie, explained to the jury that her client was dealing with the aftermath of his best friend’s shooting death by other sheriff’s deputies just two days prior to the incident. Additionally, she also stated that Murray was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time.
During the trial, the defense lawyer emphasized the emotional toll that the events of September 10th to 12th had on Murray, stating that the loss of the person closest to him was devastating. These were undoubtedly the darkest days in Murray’s life, and it is important to consider the emotional impact they had on him during this time.
During the trial, Hardie emphasized that her client’s behavior was not premeditated but rather impulsive. She explained that his actions were fueled by a combination of alcohol, methamphetamine, and grief over the loss of his best friend. The lawyer’s defense aimed to show that her client was not in the right state of mind when the incident occurred.
During her testimony, she informed the panel that evidence of Murray’s intoxication had been presented by six different sources. She went on to explain that his mental state, along with the evidence of his intoxication, negates any claims of premeditation and intent to kill concerning the attempted murder charges.
During the trial, Hardie pointed out that the prosecutor’s argument appeared to be an attempt to manipulate the jurors’ emotions. He argued that if it weren’t for Apolinar’s actions, the case would have been considered a murder case. Hardie’s accusation suggests that the prosecutor may have been using emotional appeals to sway the jury’s decision rather than relying on the facts of the case.
Murray’s lawyer implored the jurors to focus solely on the evidence and the instructions provided during the trial, despite any preconceived notions they may have about the deputies being heroic figures in their personal lives.
During the trial, the defense lawyer acknowledged that there was evidence to support the assault charge related to the first shooting on September 1, 2020. Additionally, she admitted that Murray possessed a firearm while being a felon, which resulted in several counts against him. However, the lawyer portrayed her client as someone who had only been convicted of minor offenses.
During the trial, she informed the jurors that the defense was disputing various charges against the defendant, which included attempted murder charges against the deputies, carjacking, and robbery counts related to the first shooting victim mentioned in the assault count.
During the trial, the defense attorney made it clear to the jurors that their request was not to let the defendant walk away free, but rather to abide by the law.
Throughout the trial, the jurors were presented with testimonies from both wounded deputies and Murray himself, who took the stand to defend his actions.
While testifying in court, Apolinar, dressed in a sheriff’s uniform, recounted her experience of hearing gunshots and losing her vision for a few moments after she and her partner were shot.
During her testimony, she explained that when she was shot, she wasn’t initially sure where the bullet had struck her, but she did feel a warm sensation in her mouth. Despite the injury, she attempted to communicate with her partner through a police radio to report the incident.
During the trial, she described how she sensed her tongue moving uncontrollably inside her mouth, and how the dispatcher struggled to comprehend her cries for help.
During her testimony, Apolinar, a mother of a 6-year-old child at the time of the incident, stated that she was aware of being struck in the mouth.
After witnessing her partner’s face and right arm covered in blood, she immediately tried to assist him by helping him put on a tourniquet.
During her testimony, the deputy expressed her uncertainty regarding the suspect’s whereabouts and whether he would return. She further stated that she did not have a clear view of the suspect’s identity and that neither she nor her partner fired any shots in response.
The surveillance footage captured the moment when the shooter approached the sheriff’s car on the passenger side, firing his weapon and quickly fleeing the scene. Deputy Apolinar rushed to her partner’s aid and both of them, with their uniforms stained with blood, hurried to a waiting patrol vehicle that took them to the hospital. The intensity of the situation is palpable and the bravery displayed by these officers is truly commendable.
Apolinar’s bravery and selflessness in assisting her injured colleague did not go unnoticed. At the time, District Attorney Jackie Lacey commended her actions as nothing short of heroic. Apolinar’s commendable actions earned her the 2021 American Legion, Department of California’s Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for Valor award, which is a fitting tribute to her courage and dedication to duty.
Apolinar’s companion suffered a gunshot wound to the forehead and arm.
Following the jury’s verdict, George Gascón, the District Attorney of Los Angeles County, issued a written statement stating that justice has been served. He expressed satisfaction that the perpetrator of the heinous crime, which involved ambushing and shooting two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies during a crime spree, has been found guilty. The verdict is a testament to their unwavering commitment to protecting those who serve, and it sends a clear message that acts of violence will not be tolerated or go unpunished.