FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A convicted felon on trial for the murder of his on-again, off-again girlfriend is admitting he killed her, but he has a shocking explanation.
If a jury believes the story from James Gonzalez-Gay, they could convict him of manslaughter instead of murder.
Breanna Bradford's last day on earth started with a long drive with Gonzalez-Gay.
He showed up unexpectedly at her Fresno apartment, repeatedly asked for a ride, and finally wore her down.
They drove to Hanford in the early morning hours of Sept. 16, 2017.
Video evidence shows them at a fast food restaurant where he ordered two meals, but she seemed to be asleep.
By 4 am, Gonzalez-Gay was going to banks and gas stations -- trying to use her credit card, but struggling with PINs and zip codes.
"Breanna couldn't tell him what those PIN numbers or those zip codes were because he had already killed her," said prosecutor Elana Smith.
She says Gonzalez-Gay went to his mother's house and grabbed a tablecloth.
Police found Bradford's body in her car on Sept. 17, killed by a gun, and covered by the tablecloth.
"James Gonzales-Gay murdered Breanna Bradford," Smith told a jury.
Fresno police arrested Gonzalez-Gay before they found the body.
After visiting his mother's house, he had tried to carjack a postal carrier about 1.3 miles from where Bradford's car was found a day later.
Police caught him with a gun broken down into pieces.
He eventually admitted to killing Bradford.
But in trial, his defense attorney is giving a motive for the first time.
He says Gonzalez-Gay found out that morning that Bradford had previously participated in having him drugged to sleep and then violated with some foreign object.
"The emotional pain of having been violated returns to him in a sudden rush," said Mark Siegel. "And the emotional pain of being betrayed by someone he cared for returns in sudden rush."
Siegel says Gonzalez-Gay's mind was on autopilot after discovering her involvement, which sets up the argument he committed manslaughter in the heat of passion.
The trial is expected to last two or three weeks and Gonzalez-Gay will almost definitely testify in his own defense, according to Siegel.
If he's convicted, Gonzalez-Gay could face up to 100 years to life in prison.
Shocking explanation in confession from Fresno man on trial for murder
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