A San Jose jury today found defendant Jason Cai guilty of first-degree murder for the fatal shooting of attorney Xia Zhao on July 1, 2008. Following the jury’s two days of deliberation, many of those who showed up to hear today’s verdict could be heard saying “yes” or sighing with relief, including the victim’s friend, Eric Zhang, of China, who said that after four years, he feels like “justice has finally been served.”
This was second time Cai, 53, was tried for the murder of Zhao, 32, an attorney his deceased wife’s family had hired to represent them in a wrongful death lawsuit against him. Zhao was shot shortly before 10 a.m. as she arrived at her office parking lot on Hamilton Avenue in San Jose. Cai’s earlier trial had ended in 2010 with a deadlocked jury, Deputy District Attorney Brian Welch said. In addition to murder, the jury today found Cai guilty of a special-circumstance allegation of lying in wait.
The special-circumstance conviction means Cai will not be eligible for parole, Welch said. Cai will be sentenced on May 24. Welch said that he believes hearing Cai testify helped push the jury toward convicting him. Outside the courtroom, some jurors embraced Zhao’s tearful husband Kevin Schwarckopf and discussed the roughly five-week trial. Juror Jody Jochheim said she thought Cai “felt as if he was above everybody else.” Jury forewoman Mary Goray said that one of the things that struck her was the lack of character witnesses brought forth by the defense.
Another juror, Jacky Failner, said that although jurors had been swayed toward a guilty verdict by the time their deliberations started, they maintained an unbiased approach “to make sure that justice was served.”
Cai was also tried for murder in connection with the death of his wife in 2003. In 2006, a Santa Clara County jury acquitted him of the murder of Ying Deng, his second wife, who was found drowned in the pool of their Cupertino home. Jurors in that case deadlocked on a manslaughter charge.
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