COURT WATCH: Defense Claims ‘Perfect’ Self-Defense in Murder Trial – Jury Disagrees, Finds Man Guilty of Murder

By Ruby Mota-Garcia

FRESNO, CA – “I agree with the DA. This is not an imperfect self-defense. This is PERFECT self-defense,” Defense Attorney Linden Lindahl told a jury during his closing statement in a murder trial earlier this week at Fresno County Superior Court.

However, despite a question about who actually shot and killed a victim, and after nearly two days of deliberation, the jury found the accused guilty of murder with an enhancement of the use of a firearm.

Last Oct. 1, the accused allegedly participated in a motorcycle club event the victim attended. The accused was the club’s Sergeant in Arms, and he was responsible for watching over club members.

And, according to the accused, the victim had opened his vest, flashing his firearm for people to see. A group of people began surrounding the victim, and people began pushing and shoving. The victim stepped out of the group a couple of times.

The accused began approaching the group to protect a friend, he said, and shot the victim, who then began shooting at the accused. The accused fired four times. Another man (unidentified) in the crowd fired his firearm twice at the victim.

Witnesses claim the accused’s friend ran in the opposite direction from the accused. He was approached by a female who coldly shot the accused’s friend. The female shooter has been identified but has not been interviewed yet.

During the accused’s testimony, said he didn’t want to kill the victim, and there was no hostility between the two. In fact, he told Defense Attorney Lindahl in testimony that, earlier that night, he and the victim exchanged condolences. The accused had recently lost a brother, and the victim had recently lost a close friend.

The accused said he shot the victim, because “I was scared. He was reaching for a gun.”

Deputy District Attorney Elizabeth Owen pointed out to the jury that the accused was not allowed to carry a firearm because of his previous felony conviction in 2018. DDA Owen asked why he was carrying a firearm with him during the event, and the accused responded, “‘cause things happen, like they did.”

DA Owen suggested the accused had his firearm drawn when he approached the group, but the accused repeatedly stated that his gun was drawn when he saw the victim reach for his gun.

Despite the accused repeatedly insisting when he drew his gun, DDA Owen still stated during closing arguments that the accused had his gun drawn out when the accused approached the victim.

“The gun was already out, and he was waiting for an opportunity to shoot. He was not protecting (his friend),” stated DDA Owen.

DDA Owen pointed out that Dr. Angelle Chen, the coroner who conducted the autopsy of the victim, said there was a large caliber bullet on the victim’s left side. “(The accused) hit him in the chest. That went through (the victim’s) heart, and killed him,” said DDA Owen.

During Defense Attorney Lindahl’s closing argument, he showed a security video taken the night of the incident. During closing arguments, he made sure to state that the accused “told (the jury) he shot (the victim), but he was not the only one that shot (the victim).”

When referring to the video in evidence, Defense Attorney Lindahl noted, “You will see four muzzle shots. You will see two muzzle shots by (unidentified male suspect), adding, “There is not a single gun recovered as evidence.”

“There were a number of shots…who fired the fatal shot?” asked Defense Attorney Lindahl. “After seeing (the victim) open up his vest and show his firearm, didn’t (the accused) have a reasonable doubt to defend himself?”

The video evidence showed the victim’s sister approaching them and taking away the firearm from her brother, handing it to another person.

Defense Attorney Lindahl mentioned his cross-examination with the victim’s sister. “I asked (the victim’s sister) what she did with the gun, and she replied, ‘I don’t know.’

“At that time, (the accused) didn’t know he took (the victim’s) life. Frankly, he still doesn’t know,” stated Defense Attorney Lindahl.

About The Author

Ruby is a UC Berkeley graduate with a Double Bachelor's in Political Science and Legal Studies. She is a first-generation Mexican-American Latina who's goal is to attend law school and become and immigration attorney. She has worked for non-profit organizations that provide immigration services for low-income communities. She returned to the Central Valley with a goal to give back and hopes to help her community throughout her practice. Ruby speaks both English and Spanish fluently.

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