LAWTON, Okla._The lawyer for the Lawton man accused of shooting another man to death told the jury today that the defendant feared for his life, and fired in self defense.
Opening statements were heard Monday in the second degree murder trial of Jimmy Nazario. He is being charged in the shooting death of Ervin Manigault outside a west Lawton apartment complex back in 2011. In the state's opening statements they told the jury that Nazario shot Manigault once in the chest and once in the back after Manigault confronted Nazario about tagging his apartment complex with graffiti.
Priscilla Munoz, Nazario's girlfriend at the time of the murder, was quickly brought to tears once on the stand. She recalled that cold December 2nd night in 2011 when she, Jimmy Nazario and two others were walking near the Motif Manor apartments. They were on their way to the movies but would never make it.
From the moment she stepped into the courtroom, Munoz found it hard to make eye contact with Nazario. Her testimony quickly turned emotional as she described the last minutes before the fatal shots were fired. Munoz said they were approached by Manigault and a friend. Manigault was on the phone as he approached the group and Munoz testified that she heard him say "be here. Here he comes."
Munoz then said Manigault spoke first confronting Nazario about tagging his apartment building with graffiti. Then overcome with emotion, Munoz described Nazario pulling one hand out of his pocket and seeing two bright orange flashes.
Munoz said Manigault grabbed for his chest after the first shot was fired and as he turned, Nazario fired the second shot into Manigault's back as he ran away attempting to get back to his apartment. That is where police would find Manigault who was pronounced dead at the scene.
The defense noted Monday in their opening statement that Nazario feared for his life at the time of the shooting because of Manigault's large stature and aggressive manner and that Manigault reached for a knife that was in his back pocket only moments before the shots were fired.
The defense claimed this is not a case of his hands were up and shots were fired. Instead one where Nazario thought shooting Manigault was the only option. They also brought attention to Manigault's high blood-alcohol-content at the time of the incident and the fact that both the victim and suspect had different gang affiliations.
Testimony will resume Tuesday as the state continues their case.