Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Prosecutors may try it again starting next week after another jury deadlocked in a bizarre murder trial in which the defense argued the killer shot his victim with an assault rifle on purpose, while the prosecution said the killing was an accident.

In a reversal of roles usually expected in a murder case, the defense said the killer shot his accomplice in a convenience store holdup, and the shooting was justified because the defendant was forced into the robbery by the dead man.

Prosecutors argued the defendant knew full well what he was doing in the robbery and shot the victim, his accomplice, by accident when unsuccessfully targeting the convenience store owner.

It was the second jury to be deadlocked in the trial of the killer charged with murdering his alleged accomplice during a botched convenience store heist nearly two years ago in the El Sereno area.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Richman declared a mistrial Thursday after jurors said they could not reach a unanimous verdict on the murder count against Jose Alfredo Favela, 24, one day after the panel found him guilty of attempted robbery.

It marked the second time a jury had deadlocked on the murder count against Favela in connection with the July 18, 2014, death of his alleged accomplice, Jose Espidion, who was armed with a machete. The first jury to hear the case against him in March could not reach a verdict, either.

Favela was arrested the day of the shooting and has remained jailed without bail since then.

He is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom next Tuesday for a pretrial hearing.

Deputy District Attorney Fernanda Barreto told jurors in Favela’s retrial that Favela — armed with a knockoff AK-47 assault rifle — was the one in charge when he and Espidion entered the store.

The prosecutor noted that the owner of the Meadow Maid Market testified that be bent down to block Espidion’s access to the cash register and that Favela then aimed at him, but the bullet struck Espidion instead.

“Even if the killing was unintentional, accidental or negligent” and even if Espidion was not the intended victim of the robbery, “the defendant is guilty of felony murder,” the prosecutor said.

Defense attorney Lori Harris countered that Favela thought he was going with Espidion to pick up a load and be paid $70 and that Favela had objected while on the road when Espidion told him, “We’re going to do a robbery. We’re going to do a hold-up.”

Espidion threatened Favela, “pushed him into the store at machete point” and forced the gun into his hands, the defense lawyer told jurors.

Favela’s attorney said her client saw the storeowner struggling with Espidion and realized he had put his life in the hands of “a high, crazy, crazed, agitated stranger.” Frightened that Espidion was about to lose control, Facela “raised the gun up over Mr. Chun and fired directly at Mr. Espidion,” she said, maintaining that the shooting was “justified.”

–City News Service

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