HAYWARD -- A jury has convicted a San Leandro felon of shooting two men within a week last year, including the murder of a man whose charred body was found in a Cherryland apartment destroyed by fire.
Alex Michael Olachea, 27, was found guilty last week of second-degree murder, which included a special clause alleging he used a gun causing death, premeditated attempted murder and two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, said deputy district attorney Teresa Drenick.
He was convicted of shooting and killing 32-year-old Ryan Casias shortly after 1:20 a.m. on Nov. 27, as the pair played dice at an apartment in the 21800 block of Princeton Street in an unincorporated area near Hayward.
The criminal investigation began about 7:50 a.m. Nov. 29 -- more than two days after the shooting -- when Alameda County firefighters discovered Casias' severely burned body while extinguishing a blaze in the Princeton Street residence, said Sgt. J.D. Nelson, an Alameda County Sheriff's Office spokesman.
The Alameda County Coroner's Bureau used dental records to identify Casias and determined he died after a single gunshot struck his upper back and punctured his lung.
"Although no one has been charged in connection with the arson, based on information we developed during the investigation, we strongly believe Olachea coordinated the arson in an effort to conceal the murder," sheriff's Detective Pat Smyth said.
He was spending Thanksgiving weekend with his girlfriend at the residence, which was being rented by a mutual friend, according to court documents. Detectives said they still are not sure what exactly prompted the fatal gunshot during the dice game.
The jury also found Olachea guilty of shooting a man three times in the chest on Nov. 20 in Ashland, an unincorporated area two miles north of the fire. The wounded man survived the premeditated attack, Smyth said.
Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy ordered Olachea to return Oct. 24 to court for sentencing. The maximum sentence is life in prison. He must serve at least 73 years and four months before he is eligible for parole, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.