INDIO, Calif. - A Palm Springs man was convicted today of second-degree murder for fatally shooting the brother of his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend after losing a fight with the victim.
Richard Manchego, 40, was convicted of killing 25-year-old Jorge Pozos, who was shot near Amado Road and North Sunrise Way on May 8, 2008. The jury reached a verdict after about three days of deliberations. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 12.
Deputy District Attorney Joshua Hill said Manchego and Michael Pozos, his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend, exchanged words the day before the shooting.
The next day, Manchego and Jorge Pozos argued on the phone and Machego drove to Jorge Pozos' residence a short time later. Manchego threw the first punch, but lost the fight, then went to his car and got a gun, Hill said.
"The bottom line is, the fight ended, and when the fight ended the defendant crossed a line ... he went to the car, pulled out a gun and fired at 25-year-old Jorge Pozos again and again and again until he killed him," Hill said in his closing statement last week.
Hill said Manchego shot Jorge Pozos to "get the final word" after the fight.
"The final thing was shooting at the victim as he runs away until he kills him," Hill said.
Jorge Pozos was fatally shot once in the chest from roughly 50 yards away, Hill said. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Michael Pozos wasn't present during the fight.
Defense attorney Demitra Tolbert told jurors her client was in a "volatile situation," and insisted Manchego didn't pursue Jorge Pozos.
"He was on the street by his car, standing his ground as the law allows," Tolbert said in her closing statement.
Tolbert said there was no evidence that Jorge Pozos had backed off during the fight, and a man who saw the altercation had his facts wrong -- such as what the defendant said before he opened fire and the kind of gun he used.
Tolbert said her client had nothing to gain by throwing the first punch, especially with other people around and the victim being bigger than he was. "It's out of character," Tolbert said.
Tolbert said the gun wasn't ready to fire, and Manchego "only sought it in his moment of need -- that's it."
"This is not first-degree, this is not second-degree (murder), this is self defense," Tolbert said. "... He found himself in a situation that violently escalated and there was nothing else he could do."
Manchego's girlfriend, Lidia Estrada, testified that Manchego was upset partly because Michael Pozos had been harassing her since they broke up.
"He was just tired of it, tired of the (threatening) emails, tired of the calls, tired of me crying," she said.
Police said they found Manchego hiding in an Indio home a few days after the shooting.