Man charged in fatal stabbing convicted in 2017 store owner attack

Jessie Aaron McConnell. Photo from Facebook.

One of two London men charged in the city’s second homicide of the year previously served time for the vicious assault of a downtown variety store owner.

Jessie Aaron McConnell, 26, is charged with second degree murder in the death of Alex Pacheco. The 28-year-old man was stabbed at a townhouse complex on Hilton Place on Monday night. He was pronounced dead shortly after being rushed to hospital.

The murder charge against McConnell comes less than three years after he was convicted of aggravated assault in relation to the attack on Horton Variety store owner Rajaie El Shorafa. McConnell was among a group of young people blocking the store’s entrance the night of October 21, 2017. When El Shorafa asked the group to leave McConnell got into a fight with him. McConnell admitted to punching El Shorafa in the face three times, causing the store owner to fall back and hit his head on the concrete sidewalk. The assault left El Shorafa with critical injuries that required brain surgery. He spent three weeks in a medically-induced coma and required months of rehabilitation. Unable to work, El Shorafa closed and sold the store he had operated for more than 20 years.

McConnell, then 23, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in July 2018.

In handing down her sentencing decision, Justice Jeanine LeRoy urged McConnell to use the incident to “motivate change” in his life by choosing to take advantage of available counselling in the penitentiary and steering clear of bad influences.

“Everyone in this courtroom hopes you can change for the better,” LeRoy said. “What your life looks like five years from now depends on the decision you make today… please make the right one.”

McConnell ended up spending just over two years in prison in addition to time served during the lead up to court proceedings.

In a letter of apology, McConnell had told the court he would use his time behind bars to “fix” himself.

The latest charge against McConnell were announced by London police on Tuesday afternoon. He was scheduled to make his first court appearance in relation to the charge the same day.

Police continue to hunt for a second suspect in the death of Pacheco. An arrest warrant for second degree murder has been issued for Jonathon Christopher Ysebaert, 27, of London.

Anyone with information to his whereabouts is asked to call police 519-661-5670 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).