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Pa. murder trial starts with self-defense claim

February 02, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The prosecution and defense agree Bryan Jefferson fatally shot Charles Green Jr. The issue in the criminal homicide trial that began Monday in Franklin County Court is whether Green was also armed.

"This is not a whodunit type of case," Assistant District Attorney Jill McCracken told the jury of six men and six women.

Jefferson, 39, of Harrisburg, Pa., is charged with the Oct. 6, 1997, shooting outside Green's home at 18 W. Catherine St.

Jefferson turned himself in to borough police minutes after the shooting, giving them the handgun used, according to police records.

"You cannot claim self-defense unless you are free from fault in provoking the incident," or if there is no opportunity to retreat to safety, McCracken said in her opening statement.

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"Mr. Jefferson acted in self-defense," defense attorney William Tully told the jury. He said Green went into his house, came outside with a gun and threatened Jefferson.

McCracken said there was no evidence of another weapon. No prosecution witness testified to seeing Green with a gun at the time he was killed.

The incident began with an argument between Gayle Jones, of Harrisburg, and Alonzo Green, of Chambersburg, a relative of the victim. Belinda Guice, of Fayetteville, Pa., Charles Green's cousin, said Alonzo Green and Sean Colter, of Chambersburg, once rented a house from Jones.

Guice said Jones gave police information that resulted in Alonzo Green, Colter and others being arrested on drug charges.

The argument took place outside Dave's Tavern, a few doors down from Charles Green's home. When Jones got into a car, Guice said she saw her get a pouch containing a handgun from beneath the seat and say to Alonzo Green, "I've got something for you."

Guice and police testified Alonzo Green has been missing since shortly after the shooting.

Jones was one of three passengers in a car driven by Jefferson. They drove off and Alonzo Green also left the area. Shortly after that, Charles Green, 22, returned home, and the car with Jefferson and Jones pulled up in front of the house.

Guice testified she saw Jones hand Jefferson the pouch before he got out of the car. "He just had one hand behind his back" when he got out of the car, she said.

Jefferson and Charles Green argued, and Jefferson pulled out the gun and shot him in the chest, she said. According to Guice, she and Sean Colter were sitting on the front steps when Green was shot and Colter left on a bicycle.

When asked by Tully, Guice said she didn't see anyone remove a gun or anything else from Green in the time between the shooting and the arrival of police.

Detective Sgt. Matt Cody testified there was pocket change, a letter and other items scattered about the body. He said there was evidence the body had been moved a few feet after the shooting.

Chambersburg Patrolman Walter Bietsch testified he saw several people around Green's body and others "milling about" nearby. He said it took about 10 minutes to clear the scene.

Pepper spray was used on some of the people and Colter was charged with disorderly conduct when he arrived a few minutes later and crossed the police line, Bietsch said.

David Lee, of Chambersburg, was painting outside Dave's Tavern when Green was shot. From atop a ladder, Lee didn't see a gun near Green after he heard the shot, he said.

The defense will present its case today.

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