Steven Petrilli Found Guilty of Officer Nick-Tomasito Birco's Murder

Categories: Crime, Law & Order
Nick-Tomasito Birco.jpg
Officer Nick-Tomasito Birco, killed in 2006
A somewhat bizarre trial four years after the death of San Francisco Police Office Nick-Tomasito Birco yesterday resulted in the murder conviction of one of his accused killers, Steven Petrilli.

The 24-year-old was found guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, gross vehicular
manslaughter, conspiracy to commit robbery and several counts of robbery. He faces a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

In July of 2006, Petrilli drove a stolen van into Birco's patrol car at the corner of Cambridge and Felton following a purported robbery spree on Bayshore Boulevard. The crash killed the 39-year-old cop and ex-marine.

The jury deliberated for only two days after a month-long trial that featured the odd instance of the prosecuting attorneys being forced to aggressively turn on a supposedly friendly witness, medical examiner Dr. Venus Azar. Azar dithered on the stand, going back on her earier grand jury testimony that Birco definitely did not die due to a preexisting heart condition. During the just-concluded trial, Azar told jurors she could not definitively say that Birco hadn't died of a heart ailment prior to the massive colission.

Petrilli's case was separated from that of co-defendants Carl Lather and Nicholas Smith, who will face trial at an undetermined later date. Petrilli will be sentenced on Oct. 22.

At the time of the July 2006 robbery and collision that cost Birco his life, Petrilli was on probation in both San Francisco and San Mateo counties, had made bail on charges of burglary and sex with a 13-year-old, and had led police on three prior high-speed chases.

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