Ocean Beach murder suspect claims self defense in shooting that killed roommate's boyfriend

Posted at 8:30 PM, Jun 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-30 23:30:29-04

A pharmacist who fatally shot a roommate's boyfriend at the door of the defendant's Ocean Beach condominium complex pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge of murder.

Thomas Francis Burke, 32, was ordered held on $10 million bail in the death of 35-year-old Jess Robles of Pacific Beach.

Deputy District Attorney Kyle Sutterley told Judge Frederick Maguire that Burke shot Robles "for no reason" when the victim came to the defendant's door in the 4100 block of Voltaire Street around 11:15 p.m. on June 22.

"This was an unprovoked act of violence," the prosecutor said outside court.

Sutterley said Robles was shot once in the throat and once in the chest.

After the shooting, Burke met with another pharmacist and then went to downtown San Diego, where he was arrested.

Sutterley said Burke was a flight risk with ties to New Jersey, where he grew up.

The prosecutor said the defendant had significant financial resources, telling the judge that police found gold and silver bars in a safe in his condominium.

Defense attorney Tom Warwick said Burke was captain of his high school swim team and got his doctorate degree in pharmacy from Temple University.

Warwick said Burke had told his roommate not to have her boyfriend come over anymore.

The attorney said someone called and threatened his client before the fatal encounter.

When Robles showed up at Burke's door, the defendant grabbed a gun and fired twice in self-defense, Warwick told the judge.

"The victim was not supposed to come in," Warwick said. The attorney said Burke shot out of fear for his own safety.

 Should Burke make bail, he is prohibited from working as a pharmacist, Maguire said.

The defendant faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted.

A status conference was set for July 22 and a preliminary hearing for Aug. 11.