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Chiapulis charged with plotting murders from behind bars
Updated at 3:30 p.m. with additional information.
BAKERSFIELD • A Silver Lakes man who pleaded guilty to the murder of his Barstow girlfriend is now charged with plotting to kill an accomplice, his victim’s daughters, and Barstow police detectives involved in the case, all while in prison.
The Kern County District attorney’s office filed five counts of solicitation to commit murder against Jeami Chiapulis late last week. Chiapulis pleaded guilty in November 2009 in the January 2009 murder of single mother of two Leisa Hurst.
According to a police report, detectives uncovered the suspected murder plot after they learned of an alibi plan Chiapulis hatched to appeal his plea bargain and get a new trial.
Barstow police Detective Andy Espinoza Sr. said that Chiapulis let news of his alibi plan — that would blame two fictional suspects — slip while talking to accomplice Joyce Fransson’s counsel, who were performing investigative work prior to Fransson’s trial for assisting Chiapulis in the murder cover-up.
In an investigation conducted in three California prisons, detectives learned that Chiapulis paid a sum of money as down payment to a fellow inmate for the murder of Barstow police Detectives Leo Griego and Keith Libby, Fransson, and Hurst’s two daughters.
Detectives believe Chiapulis wanted the detectives and Fransson murdered to prevent their testimony at future appeals hearings. In case his appeals scheme failed, he wanted Hurst’s daughters killed so that they would not be able to provide victim impact statements at parole board hearings.
Espinoza said that Chiapulis is currently segregated from other inmates in prison, and does not believe that anyone Chiapulis is suspected of plotting to murder is in current danger.
Hurst was reported missing on January 22, 2009. Detectives arrested Chiapulis on February 13, and he pleaded guilty to second degree murder in November as part of a plea bargain agreement.
In the plea deal, Chiapulis agreed to show authorities where Hurst was buried in open desert near the former Lake Delores Water Park in Newberry Springs to avoid first degree murder charges. Chiapulis was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
Fransson pleaded no contest to accessory to murder charges in a plea agreement in August for helping Chiapulis dispose of Hurst’s body. Fransson was sentenced to three years in prison in August.
Chiapulis’ arraignment is scheduled for October 5 at the Mojave branch of Kern County Superior Court.
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