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News / Clark County News

Segura guilty of murder in death of Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota

The off-duty police officer was stabbed by Segura before being shot by a Clark County sheriff's deputy

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Local News Editor, and
Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: May 24, 2024, 4:09pm
8 Photos
Julio Segura, facing, gets support from his defense attorney Ed Dunkerly following the verdict in his murder trial at the Clark County Courthouse on Friday afternoon. A jury convicted Segura of murdering off-duty Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota.
Julio Segura, facing, gets support from his defense attorney Ed Dunkerly following the verdict in his murder trial at the Clark County Courthouse on Friday afternoon. A jury convicted Segura of murdering off-duty Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A Clark County Superior Court jury Friday convicted a Yakima man of murdering off-duty Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota.

The jury deliberated for eight hours before returning a mixed verdict.

The jury voted to convict Julio Segura, 23, of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree robbery, possession of a stolen vehicle and attempting to elude law enforcement officers while acquitting him of attempted murder, attempted kidnapping and first-degree burglary. With the murder convictions, the jury also found the aggravating factor that Segura was armed with a deadly weapon.

Segura will be sentenced at 2 p.m. June 27. He faces a sentence of possibly 25 to 32 years.

“It has been a long, emotional wait for the family and friends of Donald Sahota and while we are grateful for this verdict, the pain and tragedy of Don’s death remains. Don was a beloved husband, father, son, brother, and friend who will always be missed and never forgotten,” Vancouver Police Chief Jeff Mori said in a statement.

Segura stabbed Sahota as the two struggled in Sahota’s Battle Ground driveway on the night of Jan. 29, 2022. Law enforcement from multiple agencies had chased Segura to the area in connection with an armed robbery at an Orchards gas station.

Moments later, Clark County sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Feller arrived and mistakenly shot Sahota.

Segura took the stand Wednesday and testified he was acting in self-defense when he used his pocket knife to stab Sahota three times. Clark County’s former medical examiner also testified earlier in the trial that Sahota ultimately died from his gunshot wounds.

Still, prosecutors argued Segura’s actions caused Sahota’s death. They initially charged him with three counts of first-degree murder — of which two were felony murder that the judge dismissed Thursday.

“Our office wants to thank the jury for their dedication and service on this very important case. And it has been an honor for the prosecution team to seek justice for the Sahota family,” Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik said after the verdict.

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Segura’s defense attorney Michele Michalek said she was not surprised by the verdict.

“It was a horrible case. I’m not surprised the state overloaded him with all those charges. … When you hit somebody with that many charges, they’re going to go down on at least one.”

Still, she thanked the jury for its hard work. She also criticized the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for the shooting and said the department “should take a hard look on how they train their officers.”

“I feel bad for everyone involved. An innocent man died from several people’s bad actions,” she said.

Attorneys delivered closing arguments late Thursday afternoon, and the judge kept the parties into the evening until they were done. The jury returned at 7 a.m. Friday to begin deliberations.

Juror No. 12 told The Columbian after the verdict the jurors will remember this case for the rest of their lives.

“We all realized the gravity of the case fairly quickly,” he said. “It was very difficult and emotional. It wasn’t something we took lightly.”

Outside the courthouse, he told the defense team the jury addressed the “low-hanging fruit” charges first. And the jury was split two or three times on the murder charges throughout the hourslong deliberations.

“We wanted to make sure we understood exactly and flow-charted it out,” he said.

The juror said he feels for Segura.

“He had some bumps in life that took him to this point … to cascade out of control,” he said. “He was a scared kid, and that fear drove him to bad decisions. The law came in, and they could have made better decisions, too.”

Closing arguments

Golik told the jury there’s no doubt the defense would argue Feller caused Sahota’s death.

“That was clearly a cause, right? But that wasn’t the only cause. The other cause was the defendant’s criminal acts,” he said.

He defended Feller, saying the deputy was trying to do the right thing and did what any other officer would have done in the same situation. He said Feller went “through hell” after the shooting.

“Deputy Feller has been through something horrible, probably the worst thing a police officer could think of,” Golik said.

In her closing argument, Michalek told the jury Segura is “not an angel here. He’s not a killer either.”

Segura test drove a Mercedes-Benz and never returned the car to the Yakima dealership. From there, he decided to rob the gas station, and, when law enforcement from multiple agencies began chasing him, he sped away from them, according to evidence presented during the trial.

“He’s being used as a scapegoat. It’s not OK, don’t let it happen. He deserves to be punished for his crimes. But other people need to be responsible for their actions, too,” Michalek said.

Golik again showed the jury several videos from the case, including from a police drone and police airplane. He also replayed the 911 call from Sahota’s wife, Dawnese.

He counted to 12 while a video showed Sahota holding Segura on the ground waiting for officers to arrive. Golik said during that time, Segura was trying to come up with a plan to get away.

“He knows the police are almost there, and he’s thinking about what he’s going to do,” Golik told the jury. “He knows Donald Sahota has a gun. He knows he’s going to have to get that gun and use that gun or use his knife.”

Earlier in the trial the former Clark County medical examiner testified Segura’s knife punctured some internal organs and barely missed Sahota’s aorta and spine. One stab wound in his neck went into his chest cavity, puncturing his lung and slicing a large vein. She said it would have been nearly impossible to stop the bleeding on scene, and he would have required surgery to survive.

“The defendant drove that knife into Don in a way that any reasonable person would expect that’s going to be lethal, and that’s the sort of stabbing someone would do when trying to kill someone,” Golik said.

He argued Segura was not acting in self-defense and didn’t have to stab Sahota, because Segura knew the police were on their way; he used deadly force to try to escape capture.