Jurors did not reach a verdict Friday in the trial of a 22-year-old Canyon Lake man accused of fatally shooting his best friend in what the prosecution argued was a case of intimate feelings gone sour, but what the defense maintained was a deadly accident caused by an irresponsible young man.
Houston Michael Boji could face more than 50 years in state prison if convicted of murdering 18-year-old Nicholas McCauley of Moreno Valley in 2015.
Boji, who also faces sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.
Following nearly two weeks of testimony, the prosecution and defense delivered their closing statements Thursday, after which Riverside County Superior Court Judge Samuel Diaz sent the jury behind closed doors to begin weighing evidence. The panel deliberated all day Friday, sending several questions seeking guidance from Diaz, but not returning with a verdict.
Prosecutors allege that Boji intended to kill McCauley and telegraphed his intentions well in advance with threatening texts, including one stating, “I’m serious. I will shoot you when I see you mother(expletive),” according to a trial brief filed by Deputy District Attorney Sharunne Foster.
She theorized that Boji had developed passionate feelings for his longtime friend, with whom he socialized almost daily, and became incensed when McCauley did not reciprocate.
The defendant and victim had spent time with each other four days before the Nov. 10, 2015, shooting, and Boji ended up with a cold sore afterward, which the prosecution suggested was the result of intimate contact.
When Boji complained to McCauley in text messages about his physical discomfort and unhappiness, the victim evidently did not respond, igniting anger in the defendant, who allegedly vowed to shoot McCauley the next time they met, according to court papers.
Sheriff’s investigators alleged that Boji armed himself with a fully loaded 12-gauge pump shotgun and went to his friend’s residence in the 25000 block of Soaring Seagull Lane, waited until the victim’s mother left for work, then slipped into the house, where McCauley was still asleep in his bedroom.
Boji allegedly fired one round into McCauley’s left arm at close range — so close that the buckshot dispersed throughout the sleeping victim’s entire chest cavity, killing him on the spot, according to prosecutors.
The defendant initially told detectives that McCauley had killed himself, but in succeeding statements admitted firing the shot, Foster said.
According to Boji’s attorneys, Virginia Blumenthal and Jeff Moore, Boji never wanted to kill the victim.
The defense argued that there were no homosexual impulses, and that Boji was only interested in scaring McCauley because of a minor dispute, without realizing the shotgun was loaded.
The defense described the defendant and victim, who had no siblings, as having brotherly bonds.
Boji has no documented prior felony convictions.
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