OAKLAND -- An Oakland man plans to testify that he was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot a 39-year-old woman in front of her 5-year-old son in East Oakland last year, a defense attorney told jurors at the start of a murder trial Wednesday.

Rasheed Strane admits that he fired the gun that killed Rebecca Viera and wounded Viera's boyfriend, Joseph Johnson, as the couple sat in a car with Viera's son in the back seat on Aug. 17, 2013, at 72nd and Lacey avenues, Ernie Castillo, his attorney, said.

But Strane didn't know Viera was in the car and had shot Johnson because he had threatened him with what he believed was a long-barreled firearm but turned out to be a machete, Castillo said.

Prosecutor Melissa Dooher described the shooting as an ambush that occurred after the victim couple delayed a trip to McDonald's to watch a physically fight between Viera's friend Latonya Evans and Strane's girlfriend, Brittney McNary.

The shooting was not in self-defense, according to Dooher, who will ask the jury at the trial's end to convict Strane of murder, attempted murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle.

One thing the attorneys agreed to in trial opening statements Wednesday was that the conflict that led to the deadly shooting was "stupid."


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Evans had loaned Strane an inoperable BB gun belonging to her boyfriend, Matthew Washington, so he could use it in a robbery. She wanted it back before Washington got out of jail for a fraud arrest because Washington had told her to stay away from Strane, Dooher said. Evans called and texted Strane on McNary's phone in attempt to get the gun back, which led to McNary's jealous suspicion that Evans was after her man.

The two women had a few confrontations on the phone and in person before agreeing to fight near McNary and Strane's home.

Viera heard about the planned fight while she, Johnson and her son were on their way to McDonald's and directed Johnson to the planned meeting spot, Dooher said.

Strane allegedly ran up and fired, killing Viera instantly with a bullet to the temple and wounding Johnson in the arm. Johnson punched the gas and crashes into a fence at 72nd and MacArthur avenues, before escaping the car and running to Eastmont police station for help, Dooher said.

Castillo said Johnson wasn't passive in the conflict as the prosecution contends; he had threatened Strane and his family prior the shooting.

Both attorneys said they weren't certain what the involved parties are going to say on the witness stand. Evans and McNary have been in jail since July because the prosecution didn't believe they'd willingly show up to testify.

"It's going to be a wild ride, but I think at the end of trial you'll see what happened," Castillo said.

Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.