Crime - Sacto 911

Jurors in Home Depot slaying take break

Testimony is to resume next month in the trial of Jeffery Michael Caylor, accused of gunning down a man in the parking lot of a Florin Road Home Depot in March 2014.

Kari Ann Hamilton, Caylor’s girlfriend and onetime business partner, is being tried alongside him on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact in connection with the slaying of Iraqi artist Hassan Alawsi, 46, as well as for crimes before and after the killing.

Jurors were sent home last week for a nearly monthlong break after prosecutors wrapped up their case.

Prosecutors focused on the final minutes of Alawsi’s life in testimony repeatedly disrupted by Caylor’s demands to defend himself against the murder charge.

Alawsi was shopping for paint supplies with his sister on March 16, 2014, heading for the parking lot around 7:40 p.m, prosecutors said.

Jurors watched security camera footage showing what prosecutors say was Caylor’s borrowed Buick sedan slowly cruising the parking lot before pulling up beside Alawsi and someone opening fire. Other images showed customers streaming back into the store, some embracing.

Authorities said Caylor did not know Alawsi, but said Caylor had told relatives of his antipathy toward people of Middle Eastern descent because of a business dispute with a South Asian immigrant. Alawsi’s sister was wearing a hijab, a head covering worn by Muslim women.

Prosecuting Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Donell Slivka argued that Caylor had help, calling Hamilton’s young son to the stand to identify photos of the suspected murder weapon – a 9 mm Beretta pistol – found by authorities in Hamilton’s handbag and a box of shells found in her car.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny threatened to have Caylor removed from the proceedings and hold the trial without him after several interruptions from the defendant.

“I’m going to invoke my right – my constitutional right – to represent myself,” Caylor said at one point, seated next to his counsel, Laurence Smith. “I would like to represent myself and confront my accusers.”

The judge denied Caylor’s request.

Hamilton’s mother, Yvonne Hamilton, also testified that the slow-moving Buick that crept through the parking lot in the minutes before Alawsi was killed was the same one she had loaned to Hamilton in the months before the fatal shooting.

Caylor and Hamilton were arrested March 17, 2014, in Butte County in a Honda authorities said was stolen during a Carmichael home-invasion robbery after Alawsi’s shooting.

Authorities found the Buick they believed was driven in the shooting at the home of Hamilton’s mother. On the stand, she recalled that family members had come across two live bullets and a spent round inside the car, but threw the rounds away with other trash.

Hamilton’s mother, however, had second thoughts. She testified that she went through the trash, collected the rounds and called police.

“I got a gut feeling that something was wrong,” she said.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith