Crime - Sacto 911

Barbershop murder trial goes to jury

The prosecutor on Thursday belittled the self-defense arguments made for the four men accused of murder in the shooting death of an innocent woman outside a south Sacramento barbershop four years ago.

When Deputy District Attorney Valerie Brown concluded her rebuttal arguments, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Kevin J. McCormick sent the jury out just before 11 a.m. to begin deliberations in the Dec. 14, 2010, killing of Monique Roxanne Nelson, 30, outside the Fly Cuts & Styles barbershop on Stockton Boulevard.

On trial on murder and other charges are Louis James Mitchell, 22, his brother Lonnie Orland Mitchell Jr., 27, James Leo Carney III, 35, and Larry Dean Jones Jr., 32.

“They worked together to create an explosive environment, and it was inevitable that somebody was going to die, and in this instance, it was Monique Nelson,” Brown told the jury.

Nelson was killed when she draped her body over her 2-year-old son inside her SUV as bullets flew in the 1 p.m. gunbattle the day of the shooting. Authorities say the combatants cut loose with no less than 35 rounds.

Four bystanders were injured by the gunfire. A second person was killed in the shooting, but no charges were filed in the death of Marvion Barksdale, 20. Authorities say he also instigated the shooting that led to Nelson’s death and that he would have been prosecuted had he not been killed.

Brown said the Mitchells went to the barbershop the day of the shooting looking to call out Barksdale, who had recently administered a beating to Louis Mitchell on suspicion that Mitchell had robbed a friend of Barksdale’s of his “gold grill” teeth jewelry.

Jones, who was aligned with Barksdale and who was inside the barbershop the day the Mitchells arrived, “took the bait,” Brown said. Jones called his friend Carney, who in turn got word to Barksdale that the Mitchells were at Fly Cuts, the prosecutor said.

All four defendants were armed and began firing when Barksdale arrived at the barbershop, Brown said. Each of them, she said, aided and abetted each other. It was a shot from Carney’s gun that killed Monique Nelson. Lonnie Mitchell, firing an AK-47 and an Uzi-style TEC-9 semi-automatic pistol, is believed to have inflicted the injuries on the bystanders who were inside the barbershop, according to the deputy district attorney.

Defense attorneys Linda Parisi and Amy Rogers, who represent the Mitchells, claimed that Barksdale, Jones, Carney and others sought to surround the Mitchells inside the barbershop.

Jones’ lawyer, Mike Wise, said his client felt trapped by the Mitchells and called Carney to help him get out. Carney, who had parked across the street north of the barbershop, fired the fatal bullet in self-defense when the gunfight broke out and at least one bullet was aimed in his client’s direction, his lawyer Greg Foster said.

In their closing arguments, Parisi and Foster invoked the “stand your ground” concept in an effort to justify their clients’ actions.

“If I’m getting threatened by that guy, I can call somebody to stand by me,” Foster argued Wednesday. “If somebody escalates, you have the right to respond with some force.”

Parisi said a person “can stand your ground, and pursue your assailant, even if it would have been easier to retreat,” and that a killing that resulted from the pursuit would be justified.

Brown strongly disputed the lawyers’ interpretations.

“You cannot create a situation that is an excuse to use violence,” she said.

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