Murder suspect acted in self-defense and saved abuse victim, defense says

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The man arrested half a mile from the scene of a Tarpey Village stabbing death crime says is mounting a murder defense. (KFSN)

Smith's bail has been set at $1.025 million.
The man arrested half a mile from the scene of a Tarpey Village stabbing death crime says is mounting a murder defense.

Eric Kenneth Smith pleaded not guilty to murder Wednesday morning.

"If he hadn't done what he did, he would be the one who was the victim in this case," said his defense attorney, Tony Capozzi.

Smith sat silently in court for a couple of hours, but his attorney spoke up and spelled out a defense to the murder charges.

"He was protecting himself from being beaten up, protecting himself from a pit bull attacking him, and protecting another person," Capozzi said.

The defense attorney says Smith was at the Tarpey Village home with a woman Saturday and when her boyfriend showed up, he initiated the violence with Smith and the woman.

But by the time sheriff's deputies got to the home where Anthony Felix Romero was dying, Smith had disappeared.

"He didn't really run from the case, run from the scene," Capozzi said. "He came outside of the house and was attacked by another person and was running from that other person."

Capozzi says the woman let Smith know it was safe when investigators showed up, so Smith was coming back to the house when deputies arrested him about a half mile away. Hours later, they booked him on murder charges.

Two months ago, police arrested Romero for domestic violence against the woman who was at the house and dissuading a witness. When she didn't show up for court, prosecutors dropped the case, so he didn't have any felony convictions.

Romero's brother tells Action News he thinks the whole run-in was pre-arranged.

"I'm sure they set my brother up, and that is all I know, and I feel that," said the brother, who asked us not to identify him.

Smith has no prior criminal history.

The judge set his bail at $1.025 million, and he's due back in court next month.
Related Topics:
homicide investigationFresno - Tarpey Village
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