Los Angeles Police Investigating Murder of Activist who worked with Michael Jackson attorney Thomas Mesereau [Updated]
A viewing for Sulema and Jerriell Wilborn will be Saturday, August 14, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the House of Winston 6501 S. Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles. Memorial services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, August 16 at "The Wrecking Crew Church," 11250 South Avalon Avenue, Los Angeles. Burial will be at 1 p.m. at Forest Lawn, 4471 Lincoln Avenue, Cypress.
The recent murders of Sulema and Jerriell Wilborn on Slauson Avenue are getting close police scrutiny today, and the Weekly has learned that Sulema, a criminal justice activist, worked at celebrity lawyer Thomas Mesereau's legal clinic, and that Mesereau helped her husband Jerriell get his third-strike charge overturned.
"She was very dedicated to her community and a good-hearted person," Mesereau, who among others has defended Michael Jackson and Robert Blake, tells the Weekly. "I am shocked about the murder. She was someone who always took a great interest in her community and she loved to volunteer her time to help others. "
Today, Los Angeles Police Department detectives are trying to solve a major new murder mystery:
Who gunned down this couple, shooting from a moving car into the couple's rented gray Chrysler 300 as the Wilborns drove at 3:30 a.m. on August 4 on West Slauson Avenue and Main Street near the Harbor Freeway in South Los Angeles.
Sulema was driving, but crashed into a pole on Slauson Avenue. He died at the scene, and she was taken to a nearby hospital -- but her injuries were too severe and she couldn't be saved.
Police do not know whether they were specifically targeted, or victims of random, brutal violence.
"We don't know what the motive is at this point," say LAPD homicide detective Louis Calzadillas who is investigating.
Sulema Wilborn was a well-known South Los Angeles activist. She had worked as a volunteer for the past four years at Mesereau Free Legal Clinic on Broadway Avenue, and was executive secretary of its foundation.
She ran the clinic's expungement program, which helps ex-felons get their criminal records expunged so they can try to get jobs and remake their lives. She also trained law students and paralegals, and helped gang members get off gang injunction lists.
She was also an active member of her church and the non-profit organization Families to Amend California's Three-Strikes.
Mesereau told the Weekly that Wilborn, who once worked as an account manager for a Hollywood studio, fought hard to have her husband's three-strike charge overturned, and asked Mesereau for help.
"I just showed up in court a few times to give them direction so they were always grateful for it," says Mesereau.
In return for having the strike dropped, Jerriell also volunteered at the clinic. "[Sulema] definitely brought him to my clinic to help on a number of occasions. When we had our grand opening, he was helping people park their cars."
Sophia Harris, the executive director of the clinic, said no one seems to know where the couple were the night of the shooting. She said Wilborn was in good spirits because she and her husband were moving into a new house.
"We don't know where she had gone to [that night]," said Harris. "She told [her daughter] she was going to pick up Papa. Her stepfather. She said she would call tomorrow. The next thing we know is what came out in the paper."
At the scene, police discovered a piece of paper in Wilborn's handwriting, next to a bible on the driver's side of the car. It read: ``No weapon formed against me shall prosper. Isaiah ...''
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.
- 244 People Here Illegally Arrested in Historic Sweep
Sat., Sep. 5, 12:30pm
Sat., Sep. 5, 8:00pm
Sun., Sep. 6, 12:35pm
Sun., Sep. 6, 1:00pm
- Bike Sharing Is Officially Coming to DTLA
- Wary of Loud Protests, Cop Commission Threatens to Arrest the Disrespectful