Brothers found guilty of murdering in-laws

May 31, 2011 8:38:13 PM PDT
In Oakland Tuesday, two brothers were found guilty of murdering three of their in-laws. It is a case that has divided the family for years and Tuesday was no exception.

Security was tight as family members shoved their way into the courtroom. The case that has divided the family of Eritrean immigrants for years and as the jury handed down its verdict, they remained split, sitting on opposite sides of the courtroom.

Brothers Asmerom, 47, and Tewodros, 43, Gebreselassiein were found guilty on all counts in the murders of their sister-in-law and two of her relatives during Thanksgiving Day dinner back in 2006.

Asmerom smiled as the verdict was read.

"There's nothing that's going to bring back our family members, but at the end of the day, justice has been served," victim Winta Mehari's cousin Fitsum Keflezighi said.

Prosecutors say the brothers conspired to kill their in-laws because they were convinced they killed their brother, despite a doctor's finding that he died of natural causes.

The district attorney said Tewodros Gebreselassiein opened the door to his in-law's Oakland home and let his brother inside. Asmerom fired the fatal shots.

Asmerom claimed self defense and accused his sister-in-law of wanting their brother dead because he was going to disclose a molestation in the family.

Lawyers for both brothers were outraged by the verdict.

"He didn't know there would be a firefight; he is innocent and it's a great miscarriage of justice," Tewodros' attorney Tony Serra said.

"I believe the evidence and state of the evidence was not even close to proven beyond a reasonable doubt," Asmerom's attorney Darryl Stallworth said.

It was a bittersweet end for the victims' family, who say justice was served.

"I already lost them so it's painful; I will never get them back and they deserve this," Mehari's brother Merhawi Mehari said.

Lawyers for both defendants say they will appeal or ask for a retrial. They will be back in court for sentencing in August. Both men face life in prison.


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