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Man Gets 91 Years To Life For Shooting At Officers; Parole Eligible In 20 Years

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- An East Palo Alto man was sentenced on Friday to 91 years to life in state prison for shooting at three police officers in Menlo Park in a 2015 incident in which began when they investigated a home invasion robbery in Fremont.

Haloti Lauese, 26, was convicted last Nov. 15 of two counts of the attempted murder or a police officer and other charges for a crime spree on April 29, 2015. The series of incidents began with a home invasion robbery at an apartment building in the 39800 block of Fremont Boulevard in Fremont and ended with Lauese shooting at Newark and Fremont officers who pursued him to Menlo Park.

Haloti Lauese
Haloti Lauese (Fremont Police Dept.)

Although Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon imposed the long term of 91 years to life, Lauese will be eligible for parole after serving 20 years because he's considered a youthful offender since he was under the age of 23 at the time of his crimes.

Alameda County prosecutor John Brouhard told jurors in his closing argument in the case that Lauese should be convicted of three counts of premeditated attempted murder of a police officer because Newark officers Lisa Schwerin and Jeffrey Saunders, and Fremont Detective Jeff Lawrence "almost got killed" when Lauese fired at them after they chased him to Menlo Park.

But Lauese's attorney Stephen Avilla said his client shouldn't be convicted of premeditated attempted murder because he thinks Lauese was only shooting in the general direction of the officers as he tried to flee and didn't intend to kill them.

Jurors delivered a nuanced verdict, as they only found Lauese guilty of one count of the premeditated attempted murder of an officer, which was for shooting at Lawrence.

Jurors found Lauese guilty of the attempted murder of an officer for shooting at Saunders but didn't find that that the shots he fired at her were premeditated.

Jurors acquitted Lauese of the attempted murder charge involving Schwerin but found him guilty of three counts of assault on a police officer with a semi-automatic firearm for shooting at all three officers.

Jurors also found Lauese guilty of two counts of robbery in concert for the home invasion robbery in Fremont in which Lauese and co-defendants Demetrius Crayton and Shawn Thomas stole marijuana, a laptop, a cellphone and cash.

Thomas pleaded no contest to robbery with the special use of a firearm and Crayton pleaded guilty to one count of home invasion robbery in concert with the use of a firearm.

After the jury's decision, Brouhard said, "I'm very pleased with the verdict because Mr. Lauese put the officers' lives in great danger."

Brouhard said he be believes Lauese really wanted to kill the three officers because he aimed at them but, "Luckily he missed."

At Friday's hearing, Avila sought to persuade Reardon to strike Lauese's enhancements for using a gun in the shootings and impose a shorter sentence, eliciting testimony from people who knew Lauese and said his life spiraled downhill after his daughter died at a young age.

But Reardon chose not to strike the gun enhancements and imposed a tough sentence for Lauese.

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