A 35-year-old Buena Park man gunned down his friend because he laughed at him when he got beaten up, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday.
The attorney for Jonathan Peterson, however, told jurors that his client killed 25-year-old Antwann Jones of Anaheim in self-defense.
Peterson and his friend Jihad Jones went out partying on the night of May 24 of last year, and the shooting happened about 2:30 a.m. the next day as Peterson was being dropped off at his apartment at 8192 California St., where he lived with his girlfriend and their two children, according to Deputy District Attorney Steve McGreevy.
Antwann Jones, who is no relation to Jihad Jones, died from a single gunshot wound that ripped through both lungs and severed an artery, McGreevy said. Authorities did not recover the weapon, but found a spent shell casing and a live round at the crime scene, the prosecutor added.
Jones ended up 215 feet away from the apartment building where the defendant lived, McGreevy said.
The defendant’s girlfriend, Latoya Pellazar, initially “lied to police” about what happened, but she later went to police on May 28 because “she was upset and said, ‘I can’t live with this anymore. It’s eating me up inside,’ ” McGreevy said.
Pellazar told investigators that the father of her children came into their residence upset and retrieved a gun, McGreevy said. When she tried to stop him he pushed her away and swore at her, McGreevy said.
Later that night when she finally met up again with the defendant in an Anaheim motel he allegedly told her that the victim “laughed at him when he was beat up,” McGreevy said.
Peterson’s attorney, Matthew Darling, said his client will testify that he feared for his life and shot Jones to protect himself.
“Antwann Jones punched him several times and threatened to kill him,” Darling said. “He was in fear for his life and had to act in self-defense.”
After Peterson and Jihad Jones had gone to a strip club in Anaheim, the two picked up Antwann Jones at his mother’s home, Darling said. The three were friends, but there had been tension because Antwann Jones had been accusing Peterson of trying to have sex with the victim’s girlfriend, who was a stripper, Darling said.
Antwann Jones was a “violent guy when he was drinking,” and on the night of the shooting he had a blood-alcohol level of .15, nearly twice the legal limit for driving, Darling said.
Antwann Jones kept accusing Peterson of trying to “get with” Jones’ girlfriend, Darling said. Peterson repeatedly denied it and assured Jones that he and Jihad Jones had been at another strip club than the one in which the victim’s girlfriend worked, Darling said.
After they arrived at Peterson’s home to drop him off, the argument continued, Darling said. It came to a head when Antwann Jones punched Peterson twice, the second blow sending him to the ground, Darling said.
Peterson, who had two black eyes, was struck again by Jones before Peterson pulled a gun and shot Jones, Darling said.
“He saw Antwann reach into his waistband and he was scared for his life,” Darling said. “At that point he was scared for his life so he pulled out a gun and pointed it in his general direction to get him to stop.”
Darling added, “He didn’t want to kill him… He’ll tell you that if he really wanted to kill that guy he would have kept firing.”
It was the first time Peterson had ever fired a gun, Darling said. Peterson, who was a convicted felon, was prohibited from having a gun, his attorney conceded.
Peterson left the shooting scene with Jihad Jones not knowing that Antwann Jones was mortally wounded, Darling said. Peterson had Jihad Jones drop him off at a park in Tustin and the defendant eventually made his way to the motel, where he later met up with his girlfriend, Darling said.
“What it’s really going to come down to is who do you believe,” Darling said. “Is Mr. Peterson a victim or is Antwann Jones a victim. That’s what you’re going to decide.”
— Wire reports