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Man Convicted of Murdering Sheriff’s Deputy

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A gang member was convicted Wednesday of gunning down a sheriff’s deputy in Lynwood last year and could receive the death penalty.

Freddie Fuiava, 25, who has two prior convictions for assault with a handgun, was convicted of first-degree murder by a Los Angeles jury after three days of deliberations. More than 30 deputy sheriffs filed into the courtroom Wednesday afternoon to hear the verdict.

During the trial, the jury heard a tape recording of Fuiava telling another person that he fired at Deputy Stephen Blair because he was fearful of being captured on what would be his third strike and then face life in prison.

The penalty phase of the trial begins at 9 a.m. today when the jury will decide between the death penalty and life without parole.

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Blair, 31, was killed in May 1995 while he and his partner, Robert Lyons, were on patrol in Lynwood.

Blair was driving near Ham Memorial Park when he noticed Fuiava and another man who had apparently spotted the deputies and tossed what appeared to be a gun into a yard.

Blair stopped, got of the car, and Fuiava shot him in the chest, just above his bulletproof vest, authorities said. Although critically wounded, he managed to fire several rounds. Both suspects ran off.

The two deputies were part of a joint effort by gang enforcement teams from four sheriff’s stations who were assigned to Lynwood because of heavy gang activity in the area.

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Gang enforcement team members patrol neighborhoods, follow up on suspicious activity and attempt to make contact with gang members.

Before the Lynwood assignment, Blair, a nine-year veteran of the department, had worked patrol in Lynwood and with an anti-gang unit in Norwalk.

The deputy, who was married and had three children, was raised in Pico Rivera and as a teenager had served as a sheriff’s explorer scout.

More than 4,500 mourners attended his funeral.

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