SAN FRANCISCO—On April 17, the San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon announced that Zuri Wilson, 42, of Richmond was found guilty by a jury of first degree murder with special circumstance allegations for lying in wait. He was also found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
“A dangerous man has been taken off the streets, and we’re all safer for it,” said Gascón. “Violence simply has no place in our community.”
According to court records, on August 23, 2013 at approximately 7:02 p.m., Wilson executed Shawnte Otis, in cold blood by shooting him several times as he unsuspectingly knelt near the passenger’s side of his vehicle.
A press release from the SFDA’s Office indicated that the defendant committed this murder after lying in wait for over an hour in a vacant housing unit across from where the victim lived. At the time of the shooting Otis was unloading items from his rental car when two masked men rushed from a housing unit located at 129 Blythdale Avenue, ran up and shot him several times in the head and back. The suspects immediately fled south through a courtyard and a large hole in a fence that led out to Carrizal Avenue. A witness testified that seeing the two men enter and flee in a Nissan Altima.
Video surveillance shown during trial captured a Nissan Altima two hours before the homicide in the region where the victim was ultimately executed. Footage also depicted Wilson driving the car. The surveillance video shows a window shade on the second floor periodically moving as the shooter conducted surveillance. A review of Wilson’s cellphone noted that device was in the area of the Sunnydale Projects, consistent with the location of the homicide. His call detail records showed that his last completed call in the Sunnydale area ended at 6:58:12 p.m.
At 7:00:52 p.m., video footage showed Otis walking from 151 Blythdale towards his car, at which point the second floor window shade inside of the location where Wilson was lying in wait moves. At 7:01:17 p.m., less than 30 seconds after the victim is seen on the video, the shooters ran out of 129 Blythdale, murdered the victim, and fled towards Carrizal Avenue.
Six weeks after the murder, an arrest warrant for Wilson was obtained for Otis’ murder. On October 3, 2013, the San Francisco Police Department was conducting surveillance in the area of 5011 Montoya Avenue in San Pablo. They spotted Wilson exit an apartment building on the bottom floor. October 4, 2013, SFPD SWAT served a search warrant at the same location in a planned attempt to arrest Wilson on the homicide warrant. While the search warrant was being served, the defendant was able to avoid arrest and escaped out the rear of the apartment. He avoided arrest for approximately an hour and was later apprehended at San Pablo BART Station with approximately $14,000 in cash.
The following pieces of evidence were found at the residence where the warrant was served:
-A mask identical, or remarkably similar, to that worn by Defendant during the murder;
-A beanie identical, or remarkably similar, to that worn by Defendant during the murder;
-Button-down khaki shirts identical, or remarkably similar, to that worn by Defendant as he surveilled the area just one hour and forty-five minutes before the murder;
-The second shooter’s gun;
-The same brand of .45 caliber ammunition that was used to murder Shawnte Otis; and,
According to court documents, Wilson is a person of interest in several Bay Area homicides and has past convictions for being a felon in possession of a firearm, as well as being a felon in possession of a silencer and ammunition.
“While I’m pleased with the verdict and the fact our community is now safer, we must remember that a family lost a son and will never be whole again,” said ADA Omid Talai. “Their painful and vigilant presence in the courtroom served as a constant reminder of how important it was to put Shante’s murderer behind bars. I’m grateful that the jury held this man accountable for his actions, and for the tireless work of SFPD Lt. John Burke.”
Wilson faces life without the possibility of parole. “This successful prosecution is due to an excellent investigation by SFPD Lt. John Burke,” stated the SFDA’s Office in a press release. Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai prosecuted the case.