Jury Deliberating Fate of Merced Man Charged with Murder Using Gun Stolen Earlier

By Sofia Leguria

MERCED, CA – The jury here in Merced County Superior Court this week is deliberating the fate of Tyler Saephan, a 27-year-old man standing trial for a homicide that occurred on Aug. 7, 2015, with a weapon stolen earlier.

The murder weapon was a gun that was stolen from a house during a party, and prosecutors told the jury the shooting was a consequence of a marijuana deal gone bad.

Saephan pleaded not guilty to the charges of first-degree murder, second-degree robbery, theft of a firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm, and unlawful possession of ammunition for a firearm.

Witnesses testified that Saephan was at a party at a friend’s house in Merced on July 23, 2014, two weeks before the homicide. Witnesses allege the hosts left the room, and when they returned Saephan and Cesar Barrera were alone. Barrera is only facing charges for the burglary at this time.

The host testified that her father called her after returning to his home, where the party was held, and told her his guns had been stolen from the locked safe in his bedroom.

Before she left her father’s house the witness called Saephan and Barrera to ask if they had robbed her and they told her no.

Later, all of the guns were recovered in Saephan’s car, except for a Sig Sauer P229 handgun, the murder weapon. Ammunition for the handgun was also recovered from Saephan’s car.

Saephan was arrested for the burglary then released, and picked up his car from the impound lot on Aug. 6, 2015, the day of the homicide.

When Saephan was arrested in 2017 for the murder, he allegedly confessed to hiding the handgun behind the stereo in this car, and it was still there when he picked up the car from the impound lot.

Police have identified this gun as the murder weapon based on the spent casings at the scene of the crime that were a match for the gun.

The prosecution and witnesses note that on Aug. 7, 2015, the defendant was negotiating with the 20-year-old victim of the shooting, trying to buy marijuana from the victim—early the next day, the victim’s mother found him dead in the street and called the police.

In closing arguments, the prosecutor Nicole Silveira stated, “Murder count one, a murder is a form of homicide, or an unlawful killing of one human being by another human being…I propose to you that this is expressed malice and here is why. When you kill someone with the use of the firearm let’s consider what that entails,” noting expressed malice is when there is the expressed intention to take another person’s life.

The prosecutor added the killing was an intentional act because it required the killer—Saephan—to acquire the weapon and load it with ammunition, noting “in order for this fully loaded gun to be harmful to someone it has to be pointed at someone.”

The jury is expected to continue deliberating Thursday.

About The Author

Sofia is a third year undergraduate student at University of California, Davis. She is a Managerial Economics major and pursuing a minor in Communications and Professional Writing. She plans on attending law school after graduation in 2023. In her free time she likes to play with her rescue dog named Harvey!

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