MARTINEZ -- Video of an assault that led to an Alamo woman's death in August shows a one-sided attack on the woman and her husband, a detective in the case testified Thursday.
The testimony was given at the preliminary hearing for Michael Littman, a 59-year-old real estate broker and certified public accountant charged with murdering his next-door neighbor Doris Penico and assaulting her husband Victor Penico outside their respective homes in the gated Stonegate neighborhood on Aug. 27.
Prosecutors say Doris Penico, 59, died of a head injury she received when Littman pushed her down on the steep, concrete driveway. Littman pushed her down as he was chasing her husband to beat him, officers testified.
"(Victor Penico) said he never struck Mr. Littman, not even in self-defense," Sgt. Jose Beltran said
The neighbors had been at odds for years over a driveway easement. The Penicos owned the driveway, but an easement provided the Littmans use of it. A second easement outside the Littman house allowed for the Penicos to back up their cars to make it safely down the driveway, but the passage was often blocked by cars outside the Littman house to the Penicos' frustration.
The Penicos were scared and intimidated by Littman, Beltran said, so they installed hidden security cameras in the driveway and outside their home.
The deadly incident started when Littman was filming Doris Penico leaving her house with his iPhone and refused to stop despite her repeated pleas. It was something he did a lot, according to investigators. They found more than 100 photos, videos and documents featuring or regarding Doris Penico on Littman's computers.
Littman told investigators that he was documenting his neighbor on the advice of his civil attorney because of their driveway dispute. Investigators testified that some of the videos and photos were of the woman coming and going; others were of her gardening or talking to someone.
The day his wife was fatally injured, Victor Penico joined in his wife's confrontation about the filming. Beltran said Littman replied, "You are hitting me," and then delivered a "roundhouse blow" to the side of Victor Penico's head.
Victor Penico tripped and fell upon seeing Littman push his wife. Littman followed him to the ground, continuing to pummel the tax attorney as he held himself in a turtle position.
Throughout the attack, Littman kept accusing Victor Penico of hitting him. He never did, Beltran said.
The preliminary hearing judge watched the recording of the incident in a way that the courtroom audience couldn't see the screen but could hear Doris Penico's chilling scream before she hit the ground.
Testimony continues Friday morning. At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, a judge will rule whether there is enough evidence to send Littman to trial. Littman remains free from custody on $1.08 million bail.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.