COURT WATCH: Man, Tried for Murder before Jury, Claims Self-Defense 

LOS ANGELES- CA, MARCH 2: Los Angeles Superior Court Stanley Mosk Courthouse March 2, 2004 in Los Angeles Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

By Estrella Torres 

LOS ANGELES CA – A jury trial held last Friday at a Los Angeles County Superior Court involved the accused facing a felony murder charge, although court testimony later suggested he was acting in self-defense after being physically assaulted by his attacker.

Four witnesses, including the accused, were called to the stand to give their testimonies.

A detective investigating the crime was called to address a controversy regarding the sweatshirt the accused was allegedly wearing during the crime. The detective brought the sweatshirt in question before the court.

The detective said he looked inside the garment, noting he didn’t see any blood.

The next witness called to the stand was a man who said he had known the accused since 2018 through their community and volunteer involvement in the Homelessness and Public Safety Committee and Palms Neighborhood Council.

The defense asked about the responsibilities of the committee, which the witness said included “homeless outreach, addressing public safety concerns, creating resources for the homeless, listening to the community, and presenting these things to the community.”

The witness explained how he served as “chairperson of the committee” for over a year, with that exact position then being passed on to the accused in 2020. He elaborated that chairperson was a “volunteer position and … you have to be elected.”

The witness said the accused “was an advocate for the homeless and that he was there to do good. That’s why I voted for him to be chairperson.”

A prior homeless person and friend of the accused was the next witness to be questioned by the defense . He claimed to have known the accused “since 2012” at the time he was experiencing homelessness.

The witness said the accused treated people “with dignity and respect …all the time. I believed he talked about how to be accepting of others.”

The last to testify was the accused, who confirmed Media Park was an area he would regularly visit “since 2008 … where the cycling community would meet up and I did resource outreach to homeless there…it’s a good place to spend time.”

He added he had gone to the “bar to hang out with friends, sing karaoke, and have drinks” before he rode his bike to Media Park around 3:30 a.m.

The accused admitted he had consumed “Jack Daniels…five or six drinks.” And then “sat on a bench” and began talking to someone, when he stated that he was “hit in the back of the head.”

The accused continued, “The person and I were struggling and then I was on the ground and I lost consciousness. The next thing  I remember was regaining consciousness and not being able to breathe…someone on top of me, jumping me and strangling me.”

The accused added, “I was able to reach into my pocket and pull out a pocket knife” that he said he carried normally. He claimed he began “slashing to get him (attacker) off me .. I remember getting him off me,” outlining his need to use self-defense. He said he then realized he was “slipping” in blood.

It was noted that the accused carried various items on his bike, one of them being a bottle of Jack Daniels with Dixie cups. “During the pandemic did you drink at Media Park and share with others?” questioned the defense. “Yes,” he answered.

The defense asked, “Did you immediately realize that the person you had struggled with was deceased?” “I did not,” answered the accused

When the police arrived at the scene the accused asserted he was “unconscious on the ground and a bright light was in my face.” He added he did not realize the person who shined the light in his face was a police officer.

The defense further asked if the accused was hazed, confused, and still feeling the after-effects of the struggle and alcohol, during the time of being questioned by the police.

The accused said, “Very much so,” noting, “My head hurt, my whole body hurt, I was confused and dazed” and said he was taken to the hospital.

Bodycam videos of the police officers allegedly helped the accused refresh his recollection of the events, and when questioned by the detectives, the accused said he told them he had been “drinking,” had been “attacked,” someone had tried to “kill” him and he had “fought” for his “life.”

The case has now gone to the jury for deliberation.

About The Author

Estrella Torres is a first-generation Latina student in her 3rd year at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is pursuing a major in Political Science and a minor in Public Affairs. Estrella has a strong passion and dedication to addressing social justice issues and political activism both in her high school and university. Her positionality as a student coming from a Mexican immigrant household has fueled her to pursue career goals involved with social justice and immigration law. She hopes to help undocumented immigrants as a lawyer and promote policies that would better their lives and provide them with fair and equal opportunities. Because of this, she is planning to go on the pre-law track and foster her skills of reading, writing, analyzing, and critical thinking. She hoped to gain more experience in journalism as regards law, local government, and public policy that would further prepare her for her goals.

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