Shyrehl Wesley on trial for murder
Photograph by Eva Knott
“I attracted a lot of women, yes,” Shyrehl Wesley testified in October of 2018. “I do believe that men are the dominant ones in a relationship with a woman.” Wesley turned in the witness box to speak directly to the jury, which was made up of ten women and two men. “I don’t think that dating women is a crime.”
A prosecutor asked Shyrehl Wesley if it was true that at one point in 2017, he had one wife, plus a pregnant girlfriend in another state, plus two other girlfriends, all while dating a teenaged high school student.
“Well, the woman that had my kid, it was kind of a one-night-stand thing, and she decided to keep the kid, so....”
Graduation photo of good girl Sheffah.
Wesley, who was 22 when he testified, told the jury that his first child was stillborn when he was 16. He had that baby’s name — Seonnie — tattooed on the back of his neck. And he explained some of his other tattoos; for example the shark on the front of his neck, because he “always liked sharks.” And he has a cross tattooed on his right cheek because “I come from a home of Christianity. I am very religious.”
Evidence photo of Sheffah when she was arrested
Wesley spoke about the girl he dated while she was still in high school. Her name was Sheffah and she was in the 4th or 5th grade when they first met. Wesley was two years older and was friends with Sheffah’s older brother Kniel; they were the same age. Wesley had moved from Oregon to the San Diego area. “Sheffah and her friends always had a crush on me.... They would tell me I was cute and things like that.”
Broken fingernail found at murder scene
When Sheffah took her turn in the witness box, she confirmed she had known Shyrehl Wesley since she was ten or eleven. “I seen him at my house” and “I thought he was pretty cute.” When Sheffah testified, she was 19.
She and Wesley were on trial for murder.
Sheffah and her friends admired Shyrehl Wesley’s good looks, and they knew him as a talented dancer who won hip-hop competitions. He was “almost famous,” she said. Wesley said his dancing was noticed by video producers, who then called his “manager” and specially requested him — he said his break-dance “cameos” can be seen in videos for Black Eyed Peas and Will.i.am and Gwen Stefani.
Sheffah’s hand when arrested
Sheffah was considered a “good girl.” She was a good student at Madison High School in Clairemont. She was on the honor roll; she was a cheerleader. Sheffah applied to and was accepted at several colleges her senior year.
During the Christmas break of December 2016, Sheffah turned 18. She was allowed to travel alone to the Bahamas, where her mother was from. Sheffah stayed with relatives there; she worked at her uncle’s store in a mall; she partied with her cousins.
Shyrehl Wesley always wore glasses when he was in front of the jury.
After Sheffah returned home to San Diego, her life changed completely. Bad boy Shyrehl Wesley was paroled from prison at the same time good girl Sheffah turned 18.
Gun store robbery
Wesley explained it later, when he spoke from the witness box. “I made a mistake when I was 17. I pleaded guilty to a felony. I was guilty and took full ownership and responsibility for my action.” The prosecutor described it as more than “a mistake.” The crime was actually an armed robbery of a gun store in El Cajon. Wesley said, “Right, but I got arrested as a minor.”
Young D’Angelo from his Facebook Legacy page
When Hiram’s Guns store was violently taken over by three men the afternoon of June 13, 2014, Wesley was in fact three months short of his 18th birthday. Three suspects were quickly apprehended with stolen firearms in their car. Wesley was charged as an adult and he soon made a plea deal. Wesley was at liberty for a while, but was sent to State prison in 2016 after a probation violation.
Surveillance video of D’Angelo and Wesley coming into liquor store.
This did not affect Shyrehl Wesley’s ability to “attract women.” A woman he had already known two years, named Tatiana, married Wesley while he was in the slammer. Tatiana testified that their wedding date was September 11, 2016. But their wedded happiness did not last. Wesley soon learned that his new wife was pregnant by another man. Since then, Wesley said, he has been “trying to get a divorce.”
In late 2018, he was still married to that woman. But his married status did not prevent Wesley’s pursuit of other women.
Wesley texted to his baby momma, wanting her to send money.
Secret thug romance
Sheffah was aware when her brother’s friend Wesley was sent to prison. In fact, she said they communicated while he was incarcerated. Sheffah said, “He was messaging me.” And she realized he was interested in her in a new way.
When Wesley got out of prison in early 2017, he found Sheffah’s mother not as welcoming as she used to be. “I stopped going around Kniel’s house after his mom said ‘Hey, I don’t want that thug in here,’” he said.
Wesley left the bloody shoes with Sheffah.
But that was not such a loss to Wesley, as he told it. “I was more of a friend to Kniel than he was to me. He was always in competition with me; he thought he could do everything better than me.”
But Sheffah remembered it differently, “Knowing Shyrehl was always very controlling over his friends.” She knew her brother would not submit to Wesley’s dominating personality.
The murder weapon had the serial numbers filed off.
Despite her mother not wanting him around, and her brother’s cooling friendship with him, Sheffah became romantically entangled with Wesley. “We kept it a secret.” Sheffah did not tell her family. She later said she believed her mother would have called the police. And her brother Kniel would “want to fight.” Because Kniel knew how Wesley treated women.
Prosecutor said angle of bullet wounds suggested the victim was sitting on the curb — where he was found.
“I had no clue” about Wesley’s other women, Sheffah insisted. He was her first boyfriend. Her true love. She dared to fantasize about a life with Wesley. She hoped they would move in together.
That was not Wesley’s view of it. He told the jury, “She knew that our relationship was never going to be a long-term relationship. I had a different mind frame at that time; she wanted to party and hang out with her friends.” Wesley said his priority was to take care of his family.
Sheffah suffered in the relationship. “He was dominant. I lost myself. I just got very very dependent on this dude. Very unhealthy.” She said she drove him around to do his errands, and dropped him off at his friends’ place. “Any task he needed to do, I was the driver. He was just using me, I look back at it now.” If she said something he didn’t like, “He would say ‘Shut up and drive,’ and smack me upside the back of the head.... We would go out to eat, and I would pay for everything” with money she made babysitting. “I felt like I had to keep up and wanted to be on his level.”
Emotional abuse followed physical and financial abuse. “He could make me feel guilty. I would question myself,” Sheffah explained. “He had a way of making me feel in the wrong, so I would comply, so we could be happy.”
When they fought, Sheffah said, Wesley always put it back on her. “He would say, ‘I knew that was going to happen,’ and, ‘It’s all your fault why we are fighting like this.’” She cried. “And he said, ‘You don’t love me. If you want to be together you need to stop acting like that.’”
The prosecutor asked Wesley if he and Sheffah fought a lot. “We got into fights like any normal relationship,” was his answer.
Sheffah said they would break up and then get back together. “It would always turn to I was begging for mercy and he was never wrong.”
Sheffah didn’t tell her friends about her relationship with Wesley. “I felt like I couldn’t live without him and didn’t have the strength to leave.” She testified that she spent less and less time with friends and family.
“I did not isolate Sheffah from her high school friends,” Wesley responded, “She isolated herself.” He said others “were mad” because she spent more time with him.
No, Sheffah did not seem depressed her last semester of high school. “Not to me,” Wesley testified.
Asked, “Why do you think Sheffah stopped going to classes those last months of high school?” he guessed, “Probably due to marijuana.”
Wesley said he met his best friend D’Angelo near his home on the 3700 block of Alabama Street in North Park. They were both headed for the same liquor store. D’Angelo was nine months older than Wesley and was already 21 — old enough to buy liquor.
By all accounts, D’Angelo had a bad start in life. His mother was a drug addict with mental health problems, according to the prosecutor. His cousin said D’Angelo escaped from his mother’s home when he was 16 or 17. He did not graduate from high school. He had no car and got around with a bus pass, or rides from friends. For money, he donated blood; a person can make $60 or $65 a week doing that. The pay for blood donations goes onto a blue plastic VISA card called a “plasma card.” This card was later found in D’Angelo’s pocket.
D’Angelo was a bit bigger than Wesley, at 5 foot 7 inches tall and 173 pounds. Wesley was described in jail records as 5 feet 6 inches tall and 130 pounds.
People who knew them both said D’Angelo looked up to Wesley. Some say he “idolized” Wesley. Wesley made rap videos. He had his own car, a silver Toyota Corolla. And he lived with his loving family. All were attractions to D’Angelo, who went by the nicknames D and D’Lo.
Wesley included D’Angelo in some of his rap videos; these can still be found on YouTube. Shyrehl Wesley used the name “Wesside Rehl” for these projects.
Wesley said he and D’Angelo got matching tattoos. There is a prominent tattoo over Wesley’s right eyebrow: “Triple M’s. This means Money Music and Motivation,” and D’Lo got the same tattoo, said Wesley. But the prosecutor claimed that Triple M’s actually stands for “Murder Money Mafia.” Wesley denied that.
Sheffah described the relationship between the two men: “D was always his yes man, just always making him feel better.”
Prosecutor Keith Watanabe had a theory that Shyrehl Wesley became jealous and felt betrayed when D’Angelo started hanging out with a new dance crew called the Hefners. But Wesley responded, “He is not with a dance group; that statement was made up.” Wesley also declared that he would not attack D for “something like that.”
One of Wesside Rehl’s rap videos still available on YouTube is titled, “Blood in the Rain.” In this video, D’Angelo is seen lying on the sidewalk, shirtless, playing a crime victim. That scene was tragically re-enacted later, in real life, one hot July night.
Shyrehl’s version of events
It was a warm day and night in San Diego County on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. Even at midnight, temperatures were in the 80s. Wesley told the jury that he was partying with Sheffah in the car parked in his driveway that evening. “I already had a pack of Swishers in my console in my car, and that’s when we rolled it up and smoked it. Yeah, we hot boxed it; it means you roll up all the windows in the car and you smoke marijuana. It is kinda like being in a steam room; it is cloudy and you are just inhaling marijuana.”
(For the benefit of the jury, Wesley explained how to make a “blunt.” He said one needs a tobacco cigar, “which you split and put weed inside.” He detailed: “You would buy a Swisher pack, so you split it open, you pull the tobacco out and you replace it with weed, and that’s how you smoke it.”)
Sheffah disputed that Wesley bought the weed that night. “We would always smoke in my car, of course I was always buying,” she told the jury.
It was close to midnight when Shyrehl Wesley decided they should go pick up D’Angelo. He said his car was out of gas, so they went in Sheffah’s car. And Wesley left his cell phone in his car, at his house.
After they picked up D’Angelo, Wesley said that “Sheffah offered to buy some liquor.” At the liquor store, Sheffah said Wesley asked for her debit card; she protested that she “didn’t want anything.” Wesley told her he forgot his own card and said “I will pay you back.” She handed over her card. Receipts showed purchases at Mullens on Imperial in Grant Hill at 12:20 am.
Sheffah drove to Sunset Cliffs. Cell phone records put them there at 1:15 am. Later, they travelled to freeway 15, and began northward. Wesley said they decided to go to Los Angeles to visit D’Angelo’s cousin. It was after 3 am when they took an exit off the freeway that led to a remote part of Vista, in northern San Diego County. Wesley told the jury they intended to smoke and drink and play loud music.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Wesley had searched the Internet for remote places. Cell phone records showed he looked for “San Diego canyons” and “non-emergency areas,” that is, places without a fast 911 response. Wesley explained that he was just looking for new backgrounds for his next rap video. “And we smoke and drink in the videos, so we never did it in the public, because we were not allowed to do that.”
It was the early morning hours of Wednesday ,July 12 when they stopped on a dark road. “That’s when we start smoking and drinking and that’s when things occurred,” Wesley told the jury.
“First we are sitting in the car, Sheffah is rolling up a blunt, D is in the back seat.” In Shyrehl Wesley’s version of events, the three were listening to music on YouTube and “drinking and chilling” and “passing around.”
And then, strangely, Wesley’s communication with his baby-mama became a topic of conversation.
Wesley explained to the jury that “it was like a family tradition” that he would save up money for his child by putting that money in a “waterjug.” He said this was what his mother had done. “When I would get paid for work, I would put money in there.” (During trial it was established that Wesley worked for a company called OneSource Distributors, for one month.)
Shyrehl Wesley said he did get money from his baby mama and “I would save it up in a water jug.” Sometimes, though, he took money out to support D financially. “Cause he would go to the plasma center, cause I know he was struggling.” Wesley said to the jury, “You know D’Angelo would ask me for money all the time.”
It was earlier that day, on the 11th, when D’Angelo had asked him for money, Wesley said. D told him he was fearful, that he owed money to someone downtown. “So that is why I texted my kid’s mother and tell her my life is at risk. Cause she would normally send me money for my child.” He explained, “She did not know D’Angelo, so I had to say my life was at risk.” Wesley recalled later that he did not receive money from his baby-mama that same day, “I received the money the next day, after the incident occurred.”
“We’re just chilling and I’m playing music, and he says, ‘That bitch is playing with the money.’ So I know that is my kid’s mother, so I tell him, ‘Watch your mouth! You know who that is to me!’” Wesley said D’Angelo answered, “Watch whose mouth?”
Wesley testified that D’Angelo reached forward from the back seat and punched Wesley in the head. “And I turn around and punched D in the face.” Wesley was not sure if his friend had the gun in his waistband at that moment or not. “D got out the car.”
D’Angelo said, “Yeah that! Yeah that!” Wesley explained to the jury, “That means, like, ‘Let’s go!’”
“I could hear him talking smack, like, ‘Get out the car! Get out the car!’ Sheffah said, ‘Let him find his own way home! Let’s go!’”
Wesley got out the car. “And he is squaring up to me, and he tries to charge me, and I hit him with a left, and he falls and he hits his head on the ground.” Wesley said D recovered and jumped up and rushed Wesley and grabbed him. “And he was reaching behind him to grab his gun.” Wesley said his friend had a handgun stuck in the waistband of his pants. But Wesley said he was able to shove D’s arm after he had hold of the gun, “And I could hear the gun hit the ground and skid.”
Wesley said he heard gunshots. Then “I can hear Sheffah in the background saying , ‘Come on Shyrehl! Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!’ I got into the car.”
And then Wesley spoke to his 18-year-old lover, “I say, ‘Look what you got me into! Look at the situation I am in!’ She goes, ‘What am I supposed to do? He might have killed you! Are you gonna leave me?’ I said, ‘Take me home!’ I kinda felt bad for her at the same time, I kinda understand she was just trying to protect me. I told her I ain’t be with you no more, this is not gonna work, take me home. She started getting sad, I said, ‘You got me into this, you take the gun, you just used this gun to kill my brother.’ She is kinda scared and panicked.”
A neighbor’s surveillance camera captured video of Sheffah dropping off Wesley, down the street from his home on Alabama Street. “I tell her, ‘You can’t park in front of my house like this.’” In the video, he is seen taking off his socks. “She tells me, ‘Are you gonna leave me Shyrehl? I’m sorry!’ I tell her, ‘This is the last time I am gonna see you.’”
The two are seen kissing and hugging in the video. “She kinda understood the circumstances that I am never gonna be able to forgive her.”
Sheffah said it was about ten days before the murder when Wesley first showed her a gun. She knew he wasn’t supposed to have a gun, because he’s a convicted felon. Wesley also showed her a photo of a man he said was family. He told her that man was killed, that he was poisoned by D’Angelo. She recalled Wesley saying, “I’m gonna get D’Angelo.” Sheffah testified that Wesley asked her, “Are you down for me?” And that he told her “We need to find a place to do it, a place with no police, we need a plan.”
On that Tuesday, July 11, Wesley told Sheffah to clean out the back seat and trunk of her car, she told the jury. Then Wesley went into his house and brought out his gun. She said he wore gloves while he cleaned the gun, and he took out each piece of ammo and cleaned each one. Sheffah said Wesley put the gun in her car, underneath the front passenger seat, wrapped inside a black jacket. Wesley put a gym bag and a change of shoes into the trunk of her car. Wesley left his cell phone in his car, parked at his house, and got into Sheffah’s car.
When Shyrehl was in the witness box, he spoke about the shoes that were later found in Sheffah’s trunk, with D’Angelo’s blood on them. Wesley said: “Those are actually not my shoes, those are actually Kniel’s shoes.” He said the guys sometimes wore each other’s shoes.
Sheffah said, that night, “I don’t even know where I am driving. Shyrehl is always directing me where to go. It was night time, he just said turn right, turn left.” She said her mom called at one point; Wesley told her not to answer; but Sheffah picked up and her mom asked where she was and Sheffah lied and said she was still babysitting.
During that long night, D’Angelo eventually fell asleep, spread out across the back seat. After Wesley directed Sheffah to get onto the 15 freeway, Sheffah said she drove and drove, it seemed like an hour. She was tired and sleepy. Wesley kept saying, “‘Babe, just a little longer, stay up.’ It was like he knew where he was going.”
They took the Gopher Canyon exit off the 15 freeway, about 12 miles north of State Route 78, in rural north Vista. “I never even heard of Vista until this happened,” Sheffah told the jury.
“Shyrehl gets out the car and goes to the trunk.” Sheffah said Wesley changed his shoes: he put his Nikes on the front passenger seat and switched into the black Adidas. Wesley put on plastic gloves. Then Wesley took a heavy ceramic vase Sheffah had in her car and bashed D’Angelo in the head with it; this woke him up. Wesley had the gun on him, “And walks him across the street.” Sheffah said she put her hands over her ears, but she could still hear stunned D’Angelo, “He goes. ‘Why is this going on?’”
“Shyrehl is saying ‘All that sneak dissing! All that sneak dissing!’ He said, ‘I love you, I thought we were brothers,’ and he kept saying, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I love you bro.’ And I hear pow pow pow.”
Sheffah said Wesley climbed into the trunk and told her to close the trunk. Wesley told the jury: “I never got into the trunk.” Sheffah said she broke off her fingernail when she ran around her car, slamming all the doors shut. “That’s when I lost a nail.” Investigators later found one painted fingernail at the murder scene, which matched Sheffah’s remaining fingernails.
Sheffah made a GPS search to find Wesley’s home, because she did not know her current location. Her boyfriend yelled at her from the trunk, “Are you okay? Are you okay?” And he told her to “drive safely.” She told him she was heading to his house, “He said, ‘Why are you going to my house? Why would you go to my house? You fucking idiot, go to your house!’’”
She drove to an alley behind her home, and at Wesley’s direction she went inside to get some of her brother’s clothes. When she handed Wesley the clothing, he used it to wipe the gun. They collected items from her back seat, including D’Angelo’s cell phone. Wesley wanted her to drive to Mission Bay and throw D’s cell phone into the bay, but she protested that her car’s low gasoline light was on. This angered Wesley. “I remember him saying, ‘We got to get rid of the phone,’ and ‘I just had to kill my best friend, don’t make me go double and kill you next!’” He told her, “You’re making a scene; get in the car!” They went to a gas station down the street, “And he magically had his card on him then to buy gasoline!” Even after a year, Sheffah seemed genuinely annoyed at this deception.
Body in the headlights
The body of D’Angelo was found slumped on the side of Twin Oaks Valley Road at 5:28 am on Wednesday. A man going to work at a cement factory down the road lit up the body with his headlights.
In the dead man’s pockets, investigators found receipts, the Octapharma Plasma VISA debit card, and a California ID. Sheriff’s detective George Crysler quickly traced D’Angelo’s movements over the last 24 hours.
Shyrehl Wesley and Sheffah were arrested on Wednesday night, July 12, 2017.
In the trunk of Sheffah’s car, investigators found Shyrehl Wesley’s clothes with D’Angelo’s blood on them. Under interrogation, Wesley explained, “I got into a fight with my best friend, there’s blood on my sweats.” And, “I gave her my jogging sweats prior, cause I told her I wouldn’t be responsible for this situation.”
Eighteen-year-old Sheffah Chevis was described in Sheriff’s records as 5 feet 5 inches tall and 115 pounds.
Sheffah eventually made a plea deal, she pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter for her part in the killing of D’Angelo. And she testified against Wesley during his murder trial.
When Wesley was sworn in during his trial, in October 2018, he replied to the court clerk: “Nothing but the bare truth, yes I do.” After he took his seat in the witness box, he leaned toward the jury and explained, “To prove to you of my innocence.”
After a two-week trial, the jury deliberated about four hours and declared Shyrehl Wesley guilty of first degree murder. The same judge who heard trial, Honorable Richard Monroy, sentenced Wesley to 80 years-to-life in prison. Sheffah Chevis will be sentenced January 7, 2019.