A man who went on a 2007 Orange County burglary spree -- which allegedly included a Fountain Valley home -- and who a year later opened fire on a pursuing police officer during a chase in Buena Park was convicted today of multiple felonies, including the attempted murder of a peace officer.
Jeremy Robert Bowles was also convicted of counts including robbery, burglary and grand theft. He is set to be sentenced Dec. 7.
Bowles faces a maximum sentence of 72 years and eight months to life in state prison at his sentencing Dec. 7 at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
An attorney for Bowles contended during the trial that police arrested the wrong man following the Sept. 18, 2008, morning rush-hour chase on the Santa Ana Freeway.
Prosecutors said Bowles initially eluded a police search of a neighborhood at the end of the chase, forcing a teenager to hide him in the trunk of a car and drive him out of the police perimeter.
Deputy District Attorney Dan Varon said Bowles broke into seven homes
between Feb. 4 and Feb. 23, 2007, in Fullerton, Fountain Valley, Cerritos and La Mirada, sometimes when the residents were home, and took belongings including three cars, power tools, a flat-screen TV, a purse with $100 in cash and a gun. One victim was an Orange County Fire Authority firefighter, Varon added.
Police tracked down Bowles and the firefighter's stolen Lexus at a motel Feb. 25, 2007, Varon said. Police recovered much of the stolen property in the motel room, including the firefighter's cell phone, which had a picture of Bowles in it that was apparently taken by the defendant, Varon said.
Bowles was free on bail more than a year later when he stole a car in Buena Park Aug. 28, 2008, according to the prosecutor, who said the defendant's fingerprints were found on the vehicle when it was recovered.
At about 8:30 a.m. Sept. 18, 2008, Buena Park police Officer Pedro Montez pulled over a car with Cho and Bowles inside near the northbound onramp of the Santa Ana (5) Freeway at Artesia Boulevard, Varon said.
"Just as (Montez) was getting out of the car he sees the defendant reach out of the car and pull the trigger,” Varon said.
Co-defendant Thomas Cho, who was driving, sped onto the freeway, and the defendant opened fire again, Varon said.
At speeds exceeding 80 mph, the gunman leaned out of the vehicle again and “squeezes off another three shots,” Varon said, adding that no one was hurt in the chase or shooting.
The chase continued on Valley View Avenue into La Mirada, where Bowles hopped out, but Cho stopped a short distance away, Varon said.
Police set up a perimeter in search of the gunman and eventually detained an out-of-breath man named Yojhan Pinzon, but he was later released because he was not believed to be the shooter, Varon said.
Meanwhile, Bowles broke into a home within the police containment area, the prosecutor said. One of the residents, then-17-year-old Victor Ramirez Jr., helped Bowles hide because he was afraid the intruder would hurt his family, Varon said. Ramirez eventually put Bowles in the trunk of his car and drove him outside the police search area, the prosecutor told jurors.
Bowles' attorney, Gassia Apkarian, acknowledged that her client was guilty of the thefts and that he confessed as much to police when he was eventually arrested.
But Apkarian insisted that Pinzon more closely matched the description of the shooter involved in the chase.
Co-defendant Thomas Cho, who was driving the car, was convicted March 22 of shooting from the vehicle at a police officer, assault with a deadly weapon and reckless evasion, and he was sentenced May 18 to 13 years in prison, according to his attorney Elia Naqvi.
The jury acquitted Cho of attempted murder on a police officer, which would have netted the defendant 15 years to life in prison.
--City News Service