Fresno County man on trial for murder claims self-defense; blames the man he killed

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno County man on trial for murder is blaming the man he killed, saying he protected himself and a woman from the victim.

As Anthony Romero lay dying on the floor of her house, his on-again-off-again girlfriend called 911 in a panic.

The woman says she'd just gone outside to talk to Romero, who came over even after she told him to stay away.

On May 24 of last year, he'd taken her car without her permission and disappeared, just like he'd done at least twice before.

When he came over on the night of May 25, she refused to let him in.

He came back the next day, and she decided to go outside and talk to him, but she told her friend Eric Smith to lock the door behind her.

It didn't keep him out.

She says she saw Romero lift up his hand towards Smith, but she didn't see him punch the man she always went to for help whenever she got into fights with Romero.

She did see Romero push Smith and Smith shove him back.

But after that, she says either her memory or her view was obscured.

Smith's attorney says the evidence should clear it up.

Tony Capozzi admits his client stabbed Romero and killed him, but says he had to fight back when he came under attack from Romero and his dog.

"Do you see that mark on his face? Was that there that day?" questioned Capozzi.

"I don't know," said the victim's girlfriend.

"Do you see those marks? You don't think the pit bull caused that?" asked Capozzi.

"I don't know," answered the victim's girlfriend.

Smith had no prior criminal history, but Romero did.

Two months before he died, Fresno County sheriff's deputies arrested him for domestic violence against the same girlfriend.

When she didn't show up for court, prosecutors dropped the case.

He had several other convictions, though, mostly for drugs and misdemeanor violence.

But the woman caught in the middle of the final violence testified she wasn't scared of him.

Prosecutors say Smith wasn't really defending himself or anyone else when he killed Romero, so this is murder.

He faces life in prison if he's convicted.
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