Thomas Francis Burke. Photo via DMV

A Jan. 17 trial date was set Monday for a pharmacist who fatally shot a female roommate’s boyfriend at the door of the defendant’s Ocean Beach condominium.

Thomas Francis Burke, 33, pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in the June 22 death of Jess Robles of Pacific Beach, who was shot once in the neck and once in the upper chest around 11:15 p.m.

Defense attorney Tom Warwick said Robles had threatened Burke via text messages and that Burke was afraid of the 35-year-old man. Warwick said Burke heard someone at his door and shot Robles moments later. The attorney said the case amounted to either voluntary manslaughter or self-defense, but not murder.

Larae Clark, one of Burke’s roommates in the three-story condo, testified during a preliminary hearing earlier this month that the defendant didn’t like her boyfriend from the moment they met about six weeks before the shooting.

Clark said she tried to make Burke comfortable around Robles, but after a couple weeks she kept her boyfriend away from the condominium.

The night of the shooting, Clark said she got a text from Burke calling Robles a derogatory name, and she told Robles about it.

Clark testified that she went back to the condo to start packing to move out while Robles waited in a car with a Lyft driver they had hired.

Clark said she was putting a harness on her dog near the door when Burke opened the front door and shot Robles, then said, “He’s dead.”

Burke’s other roommate, Theresa Davidson, testified that Burke called her after the shooting and said, “I just shot Jess. I’m probably going to jail.”

The defendant faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted. A readiness conference is scheduled Jan. 9. Burke remains held on $4 million bail.

— City News Service

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