Career criminal is killed minutes after jury mistakenly sets him free

Jury mistake
Police rope off the scene where burglary defendant Bobby Lee Pearson was stabbed to death after walking out of a courtroom following a jury’s mistake in Fresno.
(Jim Guy / Associated Press)

A career criminal who was set free Wednesday after a Fresno jury accidentally filled out a not-guilty form was killed less than an hour later when he got into an argument at his sister’s home.

Fresno County sheriff’s records show Bobby Lee Pearson, 37, was freed from jail at 11:57 p.m. Wednesday, the same day the Fresno Bee reported a jury mistakenly checked off the “not guilty” box on verdict forms when they weren’t sure how to say they couldn’t reach a unanimous decision.

Less than an hour after being released, at 12:52 a.m. Thursday, Fresno police say, his sister’s boyfriend fatally stabbed him in the torso and head when he showed up at her home to pick up his belongings.

“Weird stuff, huh?” said Fresno police Sgt. Jaime Rios. “That he’s released and while he’s out, he’s murdered. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of it.”


Police have not released the name of Pearson’s slaying suspect, but are looking for him, Rios said.

Pearson had been in jail for about a year while his criminal case worked its way through the court system. He and two co-defendants had been accused of burglarizing an apartment last year where they had allegedly stolen a gun and video system, according to the Bee.

Pearson had a lengthy rap sheet, including convictions on multiple weapons charges and injury against a co-inhabitant, the Bee reported.

An autopsy was expected to be performed Thursday afternoon, the coroner said. 


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