Emotional testimony in case of murdered mother

April 16, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Six years after a Fresno woman was shot and killed while walking her stepchildren home from registering for school, the accused gunman is now on trial. Tyrone Cowan is accused of shooting 28-year-old Efigenia Meza in broad daylight.

Only twelve and seven years old, and scarred forever. Prosecutors say the brother and sister were playing a game of tag when Cowan came the other way down a Southwest Fresno path.

"The defendant walked right by Jonathan and his little sister Karen, carrying the gun he was going to use to kill Jonathan's stepmom," said prosecutor Lynmarc Jenkins.

Now six years older, Jonathan and Karen both had to testify Tuesday in the murder trial against the accused gunman.

We're not allowed to show them in court, but Jonathan says he saw Cowan with the long gun. He says he didn't pay much attention until a little while later when he saw Cowan point the gun at his mother and her friend, Geremias Leon, demanding their purses.

Both children ran away, but Jonathan came back after he heard gunshots. He later identified Cowan for police. Leon also recognized the man who took her purse and shot her, and she cried as she remembered that day in August 2007.

"He shot her and she fell to the ground, and then he shot me in the arm," she said through an interpreter.

Tyrone Cowan is no doubt a troubled young man, but his attorneys deny he's a murderer. In almost six years since the shooting, Cowan has four times been committed to the Atascadero State Hospital for mental health treatment. He often looked over at his mother during testimony Tuesday. She says her son received a traumatic head injury when he was nine, leaving him with severe mental disorders.

"His impairment affects his ability to premeditate, to think in advance, the way a normal person does," said defense attorney Scott Baly.

But if a jury believes he knew what he was doing when he killed Efigenia Meza, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.


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