Murder case against Anthony Leon in final phase

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Murder suspect Tony Leon admitted in court he fired the sawed-off shotgun that claimed the life of 18-year-old Nicole Jones, but Leon said it was to try and break up a fight, and he had no intention of killing anyone.

The shooting took place 6 years ago in a neighborhood near Fresno City College.

A private investigator testified the young woman, and another woman who was wounded by the blast was a block away.

Defense attorney Charles Magill says it's tragic, but not murder. "The distance from where he fired to where the young lady was struck was nearly 300 feet, that's a long way to have the intent to kill somebody."

After testimony in the two-week-long trial ended, Magill asked the judge to dismiss the murder charge. "Based upon the testimony of Mr. Leon, I'd ask the court to dismiss the murder charges for a lack of specific intent to kill."

But Judge James Petrucelli rejected the move. "Court has considered the arguments of the council and the motion is denied."

Leon said he fired the shotgun in the air to stop an attack on his girlfriend. Magill says it casts doubt on the murder charge.

"This jury could find that he acted in self-defense, that when he fired the shotgun he was afraid and concerned for his safety and that's the reason he fired it to scare everyone off."

Attorney Mark Broughton is not connected to this case but told Action News it's a plausible defense to a murder charge.

"Another situation where it can be reduced to voluntary manslaughter from a murder is where you are either acting in what we call imperfect self-defense or defense of another person."

However, Broughton says the fact Leon left the scene of the altercation to get the shotgun, then came back can make it look intentional, and the jury could find Tony Leon guilty of murder.

Closing arguments are expected on Monday morning.
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