Durham defense attorney: Texas man shot Pa. teen in self-defense
Posted April 30, 2013
Durham, N.C. — The death of a Pennsylvania teenager shot in the back nearly two years ago was self-defense, the attorney for a Texas man accused in the case told a Durham jury Tuesday morning.
Gabriel James Gamez, 24, of San Antonio, is on trial for murder and five counts each of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill in the June 23, 2011, death of 18-year-old Darrell Turner Jr.
Turner was among a team of all-star football players from the Pittsburgh area traveling to Florida for a recruiting trip and had stopped for the night in Durham.
Gamez testified on his own behalf on Monday, that he drew his .40-caliber Glock handgun and began firing after one of the players gestured as if he were about to draw a handgun Gamez said he saw tucked into the player's waistband. He said he fired his handgun while he was running backwards.
"I thought I was about to be shot," Gamez said, denying that he was trying to hurt anyone.
If convicted of first-degree murder, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Defense attorney Rebecca Wiggins said during closing arguments that Gamez, in town alone for his grandmother's funeral, felt intimidated and scared for his life when the football players approached him.
"Mr. Gamez was standing there all alone with seven to 10 boys facing him, much larger than him," Wiggins said. "He sees one of them pull something that looks like a weapon."
A bullet pierced Turner's heart, and he was also wounded in an arm and a leg. Another teammate, Thomas Woodson, was also injured.
But Durham County Assistant District Attorney Josephine Kerr said Gamez was the aggressor and that the teens did nothing wrong. The shooting wasn't in self-defense, she said, because Turner was shot from behind.
"He intentionally pointed his weapon after communicating such horrible words to these children," Kerr said. "That's malice."
A restaurant worker testified Friday that Gamez told her he would shoot any black person who said anything to him or his family. Turner was black.
His teammates testified that they encountered Gamez on their walk back to their hotel from dinner and that he cursed them with a racial epithet.
They started running, they said, when Gamez pulled his shirt up to show a gun in his waistband. Then, they heard gunshots.
"He displayed his weapon like it was some sort of badge of honor," Kerr said. "He approached them, cursed them and called them names, and they couldn’t even repeat those words."