Would-Be Judge Killer Looks at Life in Prison

AUSTIN, Texas (CN) — A federal jury Thursday convicted a man of all 17 counts of fraud and racketeering, including the attempted murder of Texas state Judge Julie Kocurek.

After a month-long trial, the jury convicted Chimene Hamilton Onyeri, 30, of racketeering, mail fraud and wire fraud conspiracies, six counts of witness tampering, and seven counts of aggravated identity theft.

Onyeri, Marcellus Antoine Burgin and Rasul Kareem Scott were charged with racketeering from January 2012 to November 2015 in Austin, Houston and Louisiana.

Trial evidence showed that Onyeri, Burgin and Scott converted debit card numbers skimming from devices into cash, using the U.S. mail.

The RICO charges included mail fraud, bribery of a public official, wire fraud, document fraud, access device fraud, money laundering and attempted murder.

Testimony showed that the plot to murder Judge Kocurek came about because Onyeri felt their criminal enterprise was endangered.

“On the night of November 6, 2015, Onyeri attempted to murder State District Court Judge Julie Kocurek, whom Onyeri believed was going to sentence him to prison, by shooting Judge Kocurek while she sat in her car outside her home in Austin,” the Department of Justice said in a statement after the verdict.

Kocurek was seriously injured by multiple gunshots and shrapnel. She has returned to her seat on the Texas criminal bench.

“It was the most terrifying moment of my life,” Kocurek told NBC station KXAN in an interview. “I didn’t know when the gunfire was going to stop. I thought I was going to die.”

The attack on Kocurek prompted the Texas Legislature to strengthen the security of courts and judges through Senate Bill 42: the Judge Julie Kocurek Judicial and Courthouse Security Act of 2017.

The law authorizes the Texas Department of Public Safety to provide security to a state judge who has been threatened or attacked.

Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez said: “I’m glad to see justice prevail against Onyeri and congratulate federal and state prosecutors on a job well done. I wish Judge Kocurek nothing but the best as she moves forward and continues to heal.”

Onyeri faces up to life in prison at his Aug. 17 sentencing.

Burgin and Scott have both pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy. They remain in federal custody awaiting sentencing, which has not been scheduled.

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