Brothers Found Guilty of Three Counts First Degree Murder in Thanksgiving Triple Slaying

OAKLAND – Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley today announced the jury in the case of People v. Asmerom Gebreselassie and Tewodros Gebreselassie reached a verdict, finding the defendants guilty on all 14 counts. The Gebreselassie brothers were convicted of three counts first degree murder with special circumstances, premeditated attempted murder, kidnapping and false imprisonment.

The victims and the defendants are related through the marriage of murder victim Winta Mehari and the defendants’ brother Abraham Tewolde. Winta and Abraham had a son, Isaac, who was 2 years old on the day of these crimes. Eight months prior to the November date, Abraham died suddenly of natural causes while at home with Winta. Despite the lack of evidence to support their beliefs, the defendants determined that Winta and her family had murdered Abraham. This belief formed the motive for their plans to kill the Mehari family in revenge for Abraham’s death.

On November 23, 2006, defendant Tewodros Gebreselassie went to the victims’ home at Keller Plaza in Oakland. The Mehari family was celebrating Thanksgiving together. Shortly after arriving at the Thanksgiving gathering, Tewodros Gebreselassie, opened the door for defendant Asmerom Gebreselassie, allowing him to enter the home. Tewodros Gebreselassie then quickly fled with 2 year-old Isaac. As soon as Asmerom Gebreselassie entered the home, he began shooting at the family. He shot and killed 28-year old Winta Mehari, 17-year-old Yonas Mehari, and his 50-year-old mother Regbe Bahrenegasi. To escape the carnage, Winta’s brother, Angesom Mehari, jumped from the living room window, landing three stories below. Victim Yehferom Mehari was able to disarm Asmerom Gebreselassie of two guns after witnessing his mother’s, brother’s and sister’s murders.

Both defendants fled to their mother’s home, which was also located inside Keller Plaza. Approximately two hours later, SWAT Team members and Tactical Negotiations Team members were able to have the defendants and their family members exit the apartment. Isaac was found inside the apartment and returned to the Mehari family.

Sentencing is set for August 2, 2011.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Joni Leventis, who comments, “I am extremely pleased with the jury’s verdict. I only hope that seeing the defendants held responsible for these horrific crimes will help the Mehari family begin to find some closure. I want to thank the jury for their diligence and attention throughout this long, complicated trial.”

District Attorney O’Malley states, “Justice has been served in this tragic case. We hope that the victims and their family, friends and community will continue on their process of healing following these terrible events.”

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Posted on May 31, 2011