* Updated at 6 p.m. with information on potential sentencing.
A 35-year-old man who went on a crime spree in 2007, including breaking into a home in Cerritos, and more than a year later opened fire on a pursuing police officer during a chase in Buena Park was convicted Thursday of multiple felonies, including attempted murder on a peace officer.
Jeremy Robert Bowles was also convicted of counts including robbery, burglary and grand theft. Bowles, who faces up to 72 years and eight months to life in state prison, is set to be sentenced Dec. 7, Deputy District Attorney Dan Varon said.
Jurors began deliberating at 3 p.m., Monday, before reaching their verdicts this morning.
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.
"I'm thrilled at the jury verdicts," Varon told City News Service. "We're dealing with a guy who's incredibly dangerous. He broke into more houses than we charged."
During an interview with police, a recording of which was played for the jury, Bowles bragged about breaking into thousands of homes, Varon said.
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 cellphone, 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' DNA was found in the vehicle involved in the chase as well as a hat found on the freeway, Varon said.
Bowles' attorney, Gassia Apkarian, acknowledged that her client was guilty of the thefts and that he confessed as much to police when he eventually was arrested.
But Apkarian insisted that Pinzon more closely matched the description of the shooter involved in the chase.
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.
Bowles and Cho face attempted murder charges in Los Angeles County, Varon said. The two are charged in connection with the shooting of a drug dealer the night before Bowles skipped a preliminary hearing on burglary charges in Orange County, Sept. 16, 2008, Varon said.
- City News Service