OAKLAND -- The murder trial of 18-year-old Casey Turner revolves largely around the statements of three witnesses, none of whom wanted to appear in court for fear of street retribution.
Two of the witness, both friends of James Allen Jr., 18, who was killed with a single bullet to the chest during a gunbattle in 2010, have testified that Turner began the fight by shooting his semi-automatic pistol at Allen and a group of friends in East Oakland.
The third witness, a resident of an apartment building near the scene, said she saw Turner run from the scene after Allen fell to the ground with blood dripping from his mouth.
Deputy district attorney Butch Ford said the statements provide enough evidence for the jury of seven women and five men to convict Turner of second-degree murder.
But Turner's defense attorney, Darryl Billups, told the jury the witnesses provided nothing but more questions that were never answered by the prosecution.
Turner, who was 15 at the time of the slaying but charged as an adult, could be sentenced to life in prison in the midday shooting, which was sparked by a fight over a girl.
Allen's two friends told police that Turner started the gunfight as the group walked out of a corridor of an apartment building at 2124 90th Ave. in East Oakland.
One friend testified in court during the trial; the other, who is on life-support in a hospital after being gunned down in an unrelated shooting, testified
Both said they had just emerged from a narrow corridor of the apartment building when they saw Turner across the street pointing a gun in their direction. Before they could make a move, both said, Turner began firing and they scattered.
As they ran away, they said, they saw Allen fire his gun in Turner's direction, and then they saw him drop to the ground.
The neighbor testified that she heard the gunshots and then looked outside and saw Turner with a gun walking toward Allen and then running from the scene after looking at Allen on the ground bleeding from the mouth.
Ford said testimony that indicates Turner was the first to fire his gun and that he allegedly fired into a crowd of other boys is enough to convict the 18-year-old of second-degree murder.
"It's not one shot, it's not two shots, it's not three shots, it's four more than that," Ford said. "These kids are out there playing with guns like it's a game. Like (the guns) are toys."
But Billups said the evidence presented against his client does not make the case clear. Billups said one of the friends who gave police a statement had said that Allen wanted to kill Turner because he was involved with the mother of Allen's baby.
"I don't mean to be facetious, but there's some baby mama drama, the things you see on 'Jerry Springer' and 'Maury Povich,'" Billups said.
Billups also said questions have not been answered about why Allen and his friends were walking through the apartment building hallway.
"What were they trying to do? Sneak up on somebody," Billups asked. "They were looking for him to kill him, and at that point what are you supposed to do?"
Billups suggested that if his client was the shooter, the shooting was done in self-defense, but he also argued that the prosecution has not even presented enough evidence proving his client was at the scene.
Identifications made by the three witnesses were done under duress, Billups said. He said those who identified his client were scared of the police and fearful if they did not identify Turner they would be charged with murder.
Billups also said the neighbor who testified never said she saw Turner fire the gun, only that she saw him at the scene after the shooting.
Billups said the case presented in court could have easily been reversed, with his client being the victim and Allen sitting at the defense table accused of murder.
In addition to murder, Turner is accused of two counts of attempted murder. The jury began deliberating the case Monday afternoon.