Jurors on Wednesday found Jeffrey Michael Caylor guilty of first-degree murder for gunning down Iraqi artist Hassan Alawsi in the parking lot of a Home Depot store on Florin Road in March 2014.
Kari Ann Hamilton, Caylor’s girlfriend and onetime business partner, was also convicted in Sacramento Superior Court of attempted murder and other charges. She was tried alongside him on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact in connection with the slaying of Alawsi.
Alawsi, 46, studied art at the University of Baghdad, then fled the war-torn country with his family in 2001. They resettled in Sacramento in 2007.
On the evening of March 16, 2014, Alawsi went with his sister to Home Depot for paint supplies.
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They headed out to the parking lot at 7:40 p.m. Jurors watched security camera footage showing Caylor’s borrowed Buick sedan slowly cruising the lot before pulling up beside Alawsi, and shots being fired.
Authorities said Caylor didn’t know Alawsi but had told relatives of his dislike of people of Middle Eastern descent. Alawsi’s sister was wearing a hijab, a head covering worn by Muslim women.
Deputy District Attorney Donell Slivka told jurors that Caylor had help. She called Hamilton’s teenage son to the stand to identify photos of the suspected murder weapon – a 9mm Beretta pistol found by authorities in Hamilton’s handbag.
Caylor and Hamilton were arrested in Butte County a day after the killing. They were driving a stolen car shortly after Alawsi was killed.
Investigators found the Buick driven in the shooting at the home of Hamilton’s mother. On the stand, she said family members had found two bullets and a spent round inside the car, but threw them away. Hamilton’s mother had second thoughts. She testified that she went through the trash, collected the bullets and called police.
In addition to murder, the jury found Caylor guilty of attempted murder, assault with a firearm, robbery, burglary, vehicle theft and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Caylor is a onetime gang member whose criminal history includes attempted murder, attempted aggravated robbery and unlawful possession of firearms, according to court records in Kansas and Idaho. He served nearly 10 years behind bars. At his parole hearing, he said he’d made more than $80,000 per week dealing drugs.
Caylor faces life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to a news release from the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. Hamilton faces up to 16 years in prison.