De La Rosa shooting versions in dispute Trial coming to close in killing of detective

Marc S. Posner
North County News

Orange County Register
29 Oct 1992: a03.

Closing arguments got under way Wednesday in a Los Angeles County courtroom, with both sides haggling over details surrounding the June 1990 slaying of Fullerton narcotics Detective Tommy De La Rosa during a drug sting gone awry.

De La Rosa, at the conclusion of several days of wheeling and dealing, traveled to a Downey home to make a $4 million cocaine sale. About 40 seconds after entering the home on June 21, 1990, De La Rosa fell dead in the driveway. He was shot five times, but killed a suspect in the gunbattle.

Prosecutor Dan Lenhart asked a jury Wednesday to convict three of four defendants of premeditated murder during a would-be drug heist.

But Deputy Public Defender Carole Telfer argued that there was no robbery, that there was panic and uncertainty in the house that led to gunfire.

The commission of a robbery is central to the prosecution’s case because it comprises special circumstances that could lead to the death penalty.

If convicted of premeditated murder, Raul Meza, 41, Jose Yuriar, 26, and Jesus Araclio, 31, could be sentenced to die. A fourth defendant, Frederico Marriott, faces two drug counts.

Telfer admitted that Meza, who had snorted several lines of cocaine before De La Rosa arrived, fired at — and even struck — the officer.

But she blamed Meza’s actions on a paranoid reaction to the cocaine and a fear of impending retaliation from a big-time drug dealer known only as “Efrain.” Meza’s shot was not fatal, she said.

Lenhart told the jury that Meza’s shot was the fatal wound.

An attorney defending Araclio said his client wouldn’t attempt to rip off a dealer as powerful as De La Rosa appeared to be. He asked the jury to judge Araclio separately from his co-defendants.

Closing arguments will continue today.


BLACK & WHITE PHOTO; Caption: De La Rosa

Copyright Orange County Register Oct 29, 1992