Witnesses described the shooting that killed a teenager who was almost a block away from the suspect. Nicole Jones was the unintended target of a shot into a crowd. Now, the man accused of killing the 18-year-old is hoping the fact that he didn't mean to shoot her will keep him from being convicted of murder.
The smiling face of Nicole Jones graces the t-shirts her family members wore to court Monday. On the back, her smiles fades into an angry letter to Tony Leon, the man accused of killing her.
Witnesses say Leon's girlfriend had a fight with another woman in this central Fresno neighborhood last August. They told police the man they knew as "Gangster" left the fight, then came back and escalated the situation.
"Next thing you know, he heard a whole bunch of people yelling, 'He's got a gun. He's got a gun,' said Fresno police detective Leo Martinez of a man who witnessed the shooting.
Police say Leon grabbed this shotgun from a friend in a nearby apartment. By that time, witnesses say everybody was running away, including the woman who had been fighting Leon's girlfriend.
"She then heard one gunshot and saw that Nicole Jones, who was standing at the corner of Glenn & Vassar, fell to the ground," said Fresno police Sgt. Chris Serrano.
Jones was a block away and not involved in the skirmish, but she was killed. Police say the shell Leon fired had nine pellets. One hit Jones in the face. Another hit a mother of ten in the back as she ran away. Leon's defense attorney says it was a mistake, but it wasn't murder.
"Mr. Leon acted foolishly, I believe, at least from the state of the evidence, but he didn't intend to kill anyone," said Linden Lindahl.
A judge will decide Tuesday whether there is enough evidence for Leon to stand trial for murder and attempted murder. He faces a life sentence if he is convicted.