A Murrieta jury will begin its fourth day of deliberations Tuesday in the trial of a convicted felon accused of gunning down a youth basketball coach in Menifee because he believed the man had stolen drugs from him.
Othelon Dale Lyons of Los Angeles is charged with first-degree murder and a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait for allegedly killing 38-year-old Claudell Garland Walter in June 2019.
Lyons, who is being held without bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta, could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.
Jury deliberations began Wednesday and continued Thursday, with a break for New Year’s Eve, then resumed Monday, during which the panel did not submit questions to Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Freer, as it had last week.
Freer ordered jurors to return Tuesday to pick up where they left off.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Lyons was a reputed drug trafficker and targeted Walter because he believed the victim, who also worked as a truck driver, had stolen supplies.
“Claudell Walter was a well-respected local youth basketball coach,” according to a trial brief filed Deputy District Attorney Marcus Garrett. “His friends and family deny any knowledge of him being involved in any illegal activity of any kind.”
It was unclear whether the defendant and victim had met.
According to the prosecution, in May 2019, Lyons began a surveillance of Walter, attaching a GPS tracking device to the underside of the man’s Chevrolet Silverado pickup. The beacon provided real-time information on the victim’s movements, fed to the defendant’s mobile phone, Garrett alleged.
On the night of June 1, 2019, Lyons drove to the victim’s house in the 29000 block of Light Sails Court, just east of Menifee Road, and waited for Walter to return from Garden Grove, according to Garrett.
The victim and his 13-year-old son arrived home about 10 p.m. Garrett alleged that the moment the victim stepped out of his pickup, Lyons “sprang from his concealed location and shot Claudell twice in the chest” with a 9mm pistol, then fled.
The victim’s son was not injured. Walter died a short time later at Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar.
Detectives were able to obtain images from a surveillance video camera, capturing the Ford Explorer Lyons allegedly was driving, according to the prosecution. However, the investigation took six months before detectives procured sufficient evidence to identify Lyons as the alleged shooter, culminating in his arrest.
Investigators then collected video and audio recordings from the Byrd Detention Center, in which Lyons allegedly had multiple conversations with fellow inmates, according to the brief.
Lyons incriminated himself with alleged references to removing fingerprints from the ammunition and the phone that he used to monitor the GPS device attached to Walter’s pickup, though he never directly implicated himself in the killing, according to the prosecution.
When the other inmates asked about a motive, Lyons replied, “He took some (expletive). He took a lot of it, dude,” according to the brief.
Lyons has a prior conviction in Kern County for spousal abuse, court records show.