Jul 28, 2014
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Sentenced to Death

A man who killed a Temecula resident in a fatal liquor store robbery in Old Town is sentenced to death.

Sentenced to Death Sentenced to Death Sentenced to Death

A man who killed a Temecula resident in Old Town was sentenced to death today.

Marcus Fletcher, 27, was convicted last week of murdering Rafi Ibrahim, 32, and trying to murder Celesdino Olea during a robbery in Old Town.

The murder happened in 2005 at on Front Street. To read about the incident, .

Fletcher also stood trial on a count of murder stemming from an unrelated incident in San Diego, but the jury was hung and a mistrial was declared.

Fletcher stood in court and faced the jury with no sign of emotion as Judge F. Paul Dickerson read the sentence.

To read about the murder allegations, . To read about the verdict, .

The jury, made up of five men and seven women, took only a day to agree on capital punishment, though it was hard for many jurors, they said after they were released today.

"It took a lot of emotional soul-searching for some of the jurors," said Ron Gallardo, a San Jacinto resident who was on the jury.

They saw too few redeeming qualities in Fletcher that made him deserve mercy, several said.

Reactions to conviction

The murder devastated Ibrahim's parents, according to Kaloustian.
"They're broken-hearted, they're distraught… they're just living day-to-day," he said.

The victim was was an Iraqi Christian who moved to the U.S. to avoid persecution for his religion, Kaloustian said earlier during a hearing earlier this year.

The grandmother of the victim of the San Diego killing was disappointed Fletcher wasn't convicted of all the counts, Kaloustian said. "She has some disappointment, but it's better than if it was never tried at all," he said. The jury was hung 11-1.

The evidence for the San Diego killing was too weak to convince every juror, some said.

Much of the evidence was the testimony of Dale Dante Thomas, a Temecula resident, and Fletcher's accomplice during the Temecula killing and allegedly during the San Diego killing.

"You had to hang your hat on Dale Dante Thomas," said Tim O'Connell, who was on the jury. "You had to pick and choose whether to believe things."

Thomas said even he regretted Ibrahim's death, according to prosecutor Kaloustian.

"He told me, 'I hope you know and they (the jury) know how bad I feel about this,'" Kaloustian said after the trial. "It was my job to pick the place, and I know that guy.'"

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