Crime - Sacto 911

Prosecution rests in barbershop murder trial

Testimony is likely to conclude Tuesdayin the murder trial of four men accused in the shooting death of a young mother outside a south Sacramento barbershop four years ago.

Deputy District Attorney Valerie Brown rested her case Monday. When she was finished, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Kevin J. McCormick told the jury, “I’m hoping to complete the case in terms of testimony tomorrow.”

The judge added, “We’re really close to being finished.”

Defendants Louis James Mitchell, his brother Lonnie Orlando Mitchell Jr., and co-defendants Larry Dean Jones Jr. and James Leo Carney III are accused of murder in the Dec. 14, 2010, killing of Monique Nelson, 30. The woman died when she was struck by a bullet in a shootout in front of Fly Cuts & Styles on Stockton Boulevard.

An employee of her family’s bookstore and newsstand at the airport, Nelson used her body to protect her 2-year-old son when the gunfire erupted around her after the two of them had gone to a one-hour photo shop to have Christmas pictures taken.

Authorities estimate that 35 bullets were fired in the shooting that erupted just before 1 p.m., the culmination of a dispute that had been going on for a week between Louis Mitchell, 22, and another man who was killed in the shootout. Prosecutors said the slain Marvion Barksdale, 20, instigated the shooting and no charge was filed in connection with his death.

Brown presented 56 witnesses and introduced an estimated 450 exhibits in the trial, which consumed 19 court days over the past six weeks. She concluded her case Monday by calling forensic pathologist Dr. Gregory Reiber, who described the wound that killed Nelson.

Reiber testified that a bullet struck Nelson in her left side and severed her aorta after passing through both her lungs, her diaphragm and her spleen. Reiber estimated that Nelson died within 10 to 15 minutes of being shot.

Together, the four defense attorneys said they expect to call about seven or eight witnesses for brief periods of testimony. There were no indications Monday that any of the defendants will testify.

McCormick told the jury that if the testimony concludes Tuesday, the attorneys will begin their closing arguments on Wednesday.

Prosecutors say Louis Mitchell robbed a friend of Marvion Barksdale about a week before the shootout. Mitchell and Barksdale engaged in a fistfight a couple days later, before the armed confrontation at the barbershop.

During the trial, Louis Mitchell and his 27-year-old brother paired off against Jones, 32, and Carney, 35, with attorneys for the four defendants all claiming self-defense on behalf of their clients.

The Mitchells went to the barbershop the day of the shooting carrying an AK-47 assault rifle, a TEC-9 semiautomatic pistol and a .45 handgun, authorities said. Jones had a .40-caliber pistol and Carney was armed with a .38-caliber pistol, according to investigators, who say it was a bullet from Carney’s gun that killed Monique Nelson.

The four defendants also are charged with assault in the shootings of four other people at the barbershop. The Mitchells and Carney face additional charges of being ex-felons in possession of firearms, and Lonnie Orlando is accused of unlawful possession of the AK-47.

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