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Trial Begins In Sheriff's Deputy Slaying

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SMITHFIELD (AP) — May 28, 1996 - 5:00 p.m. EDT

A Johnston County sheriff's deputy fatally shot during a routine visit to a home was killed in self-defense, an attorney told jurors Tuesday on the first day of Angel Guevara's (pictured, left) murder trial.

Prosecutors gave a different account of the shooting death of Deputy Paul West (pictured, right), claiming Guevara killed the officer in a calculated manner when he and another deputy came to his trailer on Sept. 11. Lt. Ronald Medlin also was seriously wounded during the shootings.

The two officers had come to Guevara's home to confirm the address of a suspect in an assault case, according to authorities.

``Lt. Medlin says Paul West raised up his hand and said `Now wait a minute,''' Johnston County Assistant District Attorney Mike Beam said. ``And then Lt. Medlin heard what he'll describe as a gunshot.

``Paul went down. Face down.''

Guevara, who is being tried on charges of first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon, fled to New York after the shooting at his mobile home. He was captured by authorities at a phone booth at Penn Station.

But Guevara's lawyer says a weapon was fired after he tried to wrest his 2-1/2-year-old adopted son, Joshua, from West, said Tommy Manning, his court-appointed attorney.

West was ``using a two-and-a-half-year-old son as a shield and had his gun lowered at the defendant,'' Manning told the jury.

In the statement he made to investigators, Guevara said he shot West because he thought the deputy was going to harm his son. Guevara said he did not intend to shoot Medlin, but only wanted to scare him, said the statement, which can be used as evidence in the trial.

Prosecutors called Medlin as their first witness to recall the events of the day in question. He was being cross-examined by the defense Tuesday afternoon.

In a hearing held during pretrial motions, Medlin testified the deputies went to the home looking for Jose Rosado, not knowing that was one of several names Guevara used.

They met up with the suspect, who had a small boy with him. After the officers radioed for outstanding warrants against him, Guevara tried to flee from the officers, Medlin said. West followed the suspect, and the deputy cried out before being shot, he said. Medlin testified that he himself was then shot.

The 12-member jury and three alternatives was chosen after nine days of questioning by attorneys in the case. Nash County residents were selected to minimize the effects of pretrial publicity in Johnston County.

The trial is expected to last about three weeks.

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