INDIO, Calif. - A young man who opened fire on a group of skateboarders at a Desert Hot Springs park two years ago did so with a deliberate intent to kill them, a prosecutor said Thursday, but the defendant's attorney said he was acting in self-defense after being threatened by one of the men in the past.
Efrain Emanuel Hyman, 21, is charged with attempted murder in connection with the Nov. 12, 2015, shooting at Guy J. Tedesco Park in Desert Hot Springs. Jurors got the case late this morning.
The most seriously injured victim, Rahim Davis, was shot in the head and suffers from impaired movement on the left side of his body to this day, according to the prosecution. Another man, Andrew Perkins, was shot in the shoulder and arm.
The two were sitting in bleachers near the skate park when Hyman, who was wrapped in a blanket, got into an argument with Davis, according to Deputy District Attorney Anne-Marie Lofthouse, who alleged that the defendant was angry that Davis wasn't allowing Hyman's "little homie'' -- an unidentified friend or family member -- into the park.
She alleged that Hyman opened the blanket to reveal a firearm and began firing toward the crowd, hitting the two victims before making his getaway in a car.
Lofthouse told jurors during her closing argument that there was no weapon displayed by the victims and no return fire once Hyman began shooting.
"This is about a defendant who had a bone to pick with Mr. Davis and he was not going to back down,'' the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Dennette McIntyre said the defendant and Davis had a history and alleged that Davis had threatened Hyman with violence in the past.
Davis was not just an "innocent bystander,'' McIntyre said, alleging that Davis had pulled a gun on Hyman at a local library and shot at his house in the months prior to the park shooting.
Hyman also testified that he saw Davis reaching into a backpack at the park, where the handle of a gun was visible. No gun was found following the shooting, but McIntyre said police did not conduct a thorough enough investigation to determine that no gun existed.
Nonetheless, McIntyre argued that the presence of a weapon was less important than Hyman's belief that the weapon existed and his right to defend himself against that threat.
"There is nothing in the law that says that he cannot defend himself,'' McIntyre told jurors in his closing summation.
Davis, who testified that he's "miserable every day'' due to seizures and constant pain since the shooting, denied threatening Hyman and said he didn't really know him or what exactly prompted the gunfire.
Hyman was arrested in New Jersey six months after the shooting on a $1 million warrant issued by a Riverside County Superior Court judge.
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