SAN DIEGO - A pharmacist accused of fatally shooting a female roommate's boyfriend at the door of the defendant's Ocean Beach condominium was ordered Monday to stand trial on a murder charge.
Thomas Francis Burke, 33, is charged in the June 22 death of Jess Robles of Pacific Beach, who was shot once in the neck and once in the upper chest around 11:15 p.m.
Defense attorney Tom Warwick alleged that Robles had threatened Burke via text messages and that Burke was afraid of the 35-year-old man. Warwick told Judge Jay Bloom that Burke heard someone at his door and shot Robles moments later.
Warwick said the case amounted to either voluntary manslaughter or self-defense, not murder.
The judge said Burke retrieved a gun when he heard something downstairs and shot Robles twice when the door opened.
Larae Clark, one of Burke's roommates in the three-story condo, testified that the defendant didn't like her boyfriend from the moment they met about six weeks before the shooting.
Clark said she tried to make Burke comfortable around Robles, but after a couple weeks she kept her boyfriend away from the condominium.
The night of the shooting, Clark said she got a text from Burke calling Robles a derogatory name, and she told Robles about it.
Clark testified that she went back to the condo to start packing to move out while Robles waited in a car with a Lyft driver they had hired.
The witness said she heard Burke running down the stairs and noticed a bullet on the ground outside the defendant's bedroom.
Clark said she was putting a harness on her dog near the door when Burke opened the front door and shot Robles, then said, "He's dead."
Burke's other roommate, Theresa Davidson, testified that Burke called her after the shooting and said, "I just shot Jess. I'm probably going to jail."
After the shooting, Burke met with another pharmacist and then went to downtown San Diego, where he was arrested.
Burke will be back in court Nov. 28 for arraignment. He faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted of murder and the use of a gun.