Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to review the case of a felon convicted of murdering his two roommates, whose decomposing bodies were found in a barrel behind the Chatsworth house the three had shared.

The state’s highest court denied a defense petition asking it to consider the case against Brent Darrin Zubek, who is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for the shooting deaths of Oletta Jean Williams, 28, and John David Lee, 40.

Zubek was captured after a 10-day manhunt in which he fired at a police detective and, then hours later, pointed a gun at police officers. He was shot in the hip by police, but no officers were injured.

Zubek’s former housemates were found dead on Aug. 12, 2011, but the two had been killed about six weeks earlier. Their bodies were stuffed inside a barrel, moved to at least one storage facility, then moved back to the house after others at the storage facility complained about a foul odor, according to Deputy District Attorney Michael Blake.

The prosecutor said there was no clear-cut motive for the killings.

Zubek — who was convicted of federal bank robbery charges in 1993 — acted as his own attorney during his trial at the San Fernando courthouse, in which he was convicted of first-degree murder, six counts of assault with a firearm upon a peace officer and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

In a ruling last December, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected Zubek’s claim that he was denied a fair trial because a judge required him to remain seated in court while he was representing himself.

“Based on defendant’s criminal record he posed a security concern, and it was reasonable to require that he remain seated,” the appellate panel found. “Restricting defendant’s movement did not bear the indicia of guilt potentially undermining the presumption of innocence such as shackles or other physical restraints.”

The justices also rejected the defendant’s claim that his conviction on six counts of assault on a peace officer were not supported by substantial evidence. They said it was undisputed that he shot his firearm as one of the officers pursued him, and noted another officer testified that Zubek was standing on a rooftop when he pointed his firearm at an entire team of officers positioned on the ground without cover.

— City News Service

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