Defense Attorney Justifies Defendant’s Murder, Argues It Was Self Defense, Suggests Did Society Favor, Says Judge

By Tatiana Gasca 


ALAMEDA, CA — In an ongoing murder case from 2018, a jury trial continued here this week in Alameda County Superior Court for R. Zacharia Grubbs, whose defense attorney is arguing it was an act of self-defense.


The judge quipped the defense made out that Grubbs’ killing of the victim was doing “society a favor.”

She later, though, called the defendant “violent.”


Nearly four years ago, Grubbs allegedly committed a drive by shooting in San Lorenzo and murdered an acquaintance he may have known through drug deals, according to the prosecution.


The prosecutor alleged that Grubbs had become hostile with his acquaintance/victim/decedent because he owed him some drugs. Grubbs proceeded to follow the decedent as he rode off in a motorcycle. The defendant pulled up alongside him and opened fire, claimed the prosecution. 


“I don’t understand how it’s self-defense to follow someone as opposed to turning away,” commented Judge Kimberly E. Colwell, adding “This man is violent.” 


Grubb’s defense attorney claimed in closing arguments that the victim/decedent initially robbed the defendant at gunpoint, and that the acquaintance/victim had an excessive track record for being the aggressor.


The defense claimed the decedent/victim was involved in domestic violence abuse, threatening his girlfriend and her mother.


“He got on top of me and I started yelling. It was because he saw a pair of shoes I had purchased from my ex-husband,” stated the defendant’s girlfriend. 


The defense attorney argued that same night, the decedent threatened to shoot up her mother’s home. 


Prior convictions indicated that the decedent would physically abuse his girlfriend. It was apparent that she had a black eye from the altercation.


“She’s so afraid of him, your honor. That she flees to Arizona that night. She leaves to Arizona after that beating,” argues the defense attorney. 


“For bringing in text messages based on a deviant incident, I don’t think it has any connection to the murder in this case,” stated the prosecution, adding, “It sounds like it was a terrible behavior, familial trauma taking place within that set of people. I think for those reasons, the court should exclude each domestic violence aspect.”


Judge Colwell stopped Grubb’s defense attorney from explaining further, as she declared the factors for the domestic violence case were insignificant from the actual trial. 


The defense attorney fired back, “I think to exclude any of it would be to sanitize who the decedent truly is. My client is facing first degree murder, 50 years to life. He’s entitled to a fair trial where the jurors know who exactly the decedent is.”


Grubb’s acquaintance/decedent was also previously charged for carjack robbery, firearm possession, and evasions from the police, said the defense, adding, “This is the life that the decedent carved for himself. This is the life that he lived, and we should let the jury know that.”


Judge Colwell responded, “It sounds like what you’re trying to argue is that Mr. Grubbs did society a favor by killing him.”


As the court began to wrap up closing statements, Judge Colwell decided that the domestic violence evidence against the acquaintance/decedent/victim will be maintained in the case.


Grubbs is currently in custody with no bail hold. Jury trial is set to continue Aug. 16.  

About The Author

Tatiana Gasca is a fourth year student at UC Berkeley, double majoring in Legal and Ethnic Studies. She is originally from Orange County, CA.

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