Jury deliberations got underway Thursday in the trial of a convicted felon accused of shooting a possible gang rival during a dispute outside a Moreno Valley bar, leaving the victim partially paralyzed.
Travis Mitchell Hicks, 30, of Los Angeles could face more than 30 years in state prison if convicted of the 2018 attack in front of the S Bar & Grill in the 23500 block of Sunnymead Ranch Parkway.
Hicks is charged with attempted murder, firearm assault, being a felon in possession of a gun and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations — including an allegation of committing an assault resulting in paralysis of the victim.
On Thursday, the prosecution and defense delivered their closing statements, after which Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon sent jurors behind closed doors to weigh evidence from the nearly two-week trial at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
According to a trial brief filed by Deputy District Attorney Phillip Joo, on the night of Feb. 16, 2018, the defendant went to the S Bar & Grill with a male friend and two women, including one identified by the initials “M.S.”
The four encountered the victim, identified in court documents only as “A.B.,” a reputed member of the Wild Flaxx street gang in Moreno Valley.
The man knew M.S. and, after approaching the bar, engaged her in conversation, the brief stated.
Hicks did not join them and instead walked away, going outside the establishment, where he began making calls on his cell phone, according to the prosecution.
Minutes later, the victim walked to the parking lot, apparently to check his car, then headed back toward the bar. Security video surveillance cameras in front of the business recorded all movements, and according to court papers, they showed Hicks say something to the victim, who replied, though the audio was not available.
“The conversation appears calm but confrontational,” Joo said.
The victim then went back inside the bar, and Hicks headed to the parking lot, where prosecutors allege he grabbed a 9mm semiautomatic pistol from his car, after which he returned to his previous spot in front of the bar, where he was joined by his friend.
M.S. and her friend were in the bathroom, and the prosecution said that the defendant was waiting for them to finish so they all could leave.
In the video, the victim exits the bar again less than 10 minutes later but walks away from the defendant, evidently to avoid further contact. However, the two men both eye each and other and make parting comments, prompting the victim to turn around, according to the brief.
“At this point, the defendant pulls the firearm from his back pants pocket and holds it at his side,” Joo wrote.
Hicks’ friend, whose identity was not disclosed, attempts to intervene, standing between the victim and defendant.
“During the few seconds’ encounter, the victim is aggressively walking or circling the two men while verbally engaging the defendant,” Joo said. “As the victim continues to circle, the defendant raises the gun and shoots the victim through his bicep.”
Hicks’ friend ducked, and the victim scrambled to his feet, attempting to run away, when Hicks allegedly fired a second round, hitting the man in the lower back, the prosecution said.
Hicks and his friend fled the location as the victim lay on the ground, unable to move his legs, the brief stated. Two good Samaritans went to his aid, loading him into a car and driving him to Riverside University Medical Center.
Surgeons later determined that the shot to the lower back paralyzed the man from the waist down, according to the prosecution.
Sheriff’s detectives confirmed Hicks’ identity through witnesses, and he was arrested without incident hours later.
According to court records, the defendant, who is being held on $1 million bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta, was affiliated with an L.A. gang, but it was unclear whether that was specifically what motivated the alleged attack.
He has prior convictions for assault with a firearm and being a convicted felon with a gun.