Former California gubernatorial candidate Tye Champ on trial for attempted murder

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno County man who ran for governor just last year is now on trial for the attempted murder of a neighbor.

In a wide open piece of the county, Tye Champ got too close for comfort with his neighbor. Long-lasting tensions bubbled to the surface last August and Champ pulled a gun on John Price III.

"[He was] about this far away," Richard Norman said, as he stood about six feet from the prosecutor, Dennis Verzosa. "But the defendant didn't have the gun like that. He had it more like this."

"Like this, pointing out?" Verzosa asked as he held his arm as far from his body as possible.

"Yes, with the arm straight out."

Norman says John Price IV had just come across Champ working on a paving project and Little John said the neighbor had slashed the tires on his quad and threatened him with the knife.

Before long, it was Norman and Big John face-to-face with Champ. "He goes 'I'm ****ing done with your bull****. You guys have no respect for anything' and whatnot," Norman said. "And then at that point, he pulled a pistol out of his pocket and pointed it right at John."

Champ was just two months removed from a primary election in which more than 76-thousand Californians voted for him to become governor. He ran on a pro-God, anti-government platform, but because of prior felony convictions for manslaughter and assault with the intent to commit rape, he couldn't even vote for himself. Prosecutors say he wasn't allowed to have a gun either.

But Champ admits to shooting his neighbor, and says he had to protect himself when Price charged him with a knife. The coveralls Champ was wearing during the shooting have a slash on the left sleeve, but Norman says Big John was unarmed and even had his hands up when Champ shot him.

"Was there any action or conduct that would lead you to believe that Big John may have cut this left sleeve?" Verzosa asked.

"No," Norma said. "No actions were made towards that at all."

Norman says he also saw Champ shoot a horse on the property. Champ says the horse was already dead and denies shooting it.

He faces life in prison if he's convicted and he is expected to testify in his own defense later this month. null
Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.