A San Luis Obispo man was sentenced Thursday to 26 years to life for murdering his roommate with a baseball bat, after turning against the attorney who had defended him over the course of the three-week trial in June.
Charles Chad Giese was convicted June 6 of first-degree, premeditated murder for the November 2015 killing of his then-roommate Walter Ernest Vallivero, whose bloodied and nearly unrecognizable body was found by authorities laying in a bathtub in the manufactured home the two shared on Rancho Oaks Drive in rural San Luis Obispo.
Giese, 43, confessed early in the Sheriff’s Office’s investigation to striking Vallivero in the head with a glass beer bottle and a baseball bat several times after a confrontation between the two escalated into a physical fight.
Giese claimed he acted in self-defense when he repeatedly struck Vallivero, who he said was drunk and violent. Vallivero’s body was found to have had a blood alcohol content of 0.19, more than twice the legal limit to drive of 0.08.
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But neighbors, landlords and medical personnel testified during the trial that a similar physical fight between the two about a month before the murder put Vallivero in the hospital, and that Giese was being evicted from the home at the time of the murder.
Giese was convicted by a jury after a little more than a day of deliberations.
But Giese’s sentencing was delayed for three weeks after he interrupted his July 26 sentencing hearing by telling the judge he wanted new legal counsel, alleging that his attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, provided ineffective representation. The proceedings were halted as a public defender was appointed, and Giese filed a motion for a new trial.
Before Giese made his request July 26, members of Vallivero’s and Giese’s family presented statements to Superior Court Judge Jacquelyn Duffy.
Duffy heard a statement written by Vallivero’s sister, Monica Boyd, read aloud by Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle, who prosecuted the case.
Boyd wrote that while her brother “wasn’t perfect,” he was a good man and called his murder an “assassination.”
“The biggest mistake my brother ever made was to let this monster into his home,” Boyd wrote.
She added in her statement that she has respect for the District Attorney’s Office, which she said kept her updated on the case from her home in New Zealand.
“My brother has justice,” Boyd wrote.
In an unusual move, Duffy also allowed Brenda Caves, Giese’s mother, to also make a statement.
Caves, fighting back tears, said she hoped Vallivero’s family would accept the heartfelt sympathy of a single mother whose only child will spend most of his adult life in prison.
“My son did not mean to do this. It was not planned,” Caves said. “This is a situation where these two people should have never lived together.”
When it was time to provide his statement, Giese asked Duffy to postpone his sentencing because he didn’t “fully understand what’s going to happen” and asked to speak with Duffy outside the presence of Funke-Bilu, who he said hadn’t adequately conferred with him before and during the trial.
“I don’t believe the verdict, and I know that it’s completely false,” Giese told Duffy.
Before declaring a conflict, Funke-Bilu told Duffy he fulfilled his responsibilities to Giese “to the best of my ability and then some.”
On Thursday, Duffy denied Giese’s motion for a new trial based on ineffective legal counsel and resumed sentencing proceedings.
Taking a much more somber tone, Giese read a written statement to Vallivero’s family and to Duffy, saying he hoped he did not seem “insensitive or uncaring” during his trial and that he “asks for forgiveness every day.”
“I never meant to hurt Walter,” Giese said. “I made a huge mistake.”
Giese will be transferred to the custody of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which will determine state prison placement.
Duffy noted Thursday that she is recommending that he be housed at California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo so that he may be close to his mother.
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