MARTINEZ -- A defense attorney told jurors Monday that his client did not kill a 17-year-old San Ramon Valley High School senior who was fatally shot outside his Danville home in 2009.
During opening statements at the trial of 22-year-old Berkeley resident Walter Bell, deputy public defender Kirk Anthanasiou said the evidence will show that Bell took no part in the robbery that surrounded Rylan Fuchs' death.
Bell confessed to at least two people that he shot Fuchs outside Fuchs' home on El Capitan Drive on Jan. 20, 2009, deputy district attorney Jill Henderson said in her opening statement.
Fuchs sold small amounts of marijuana to people he knew and was set up to be robbed that night by former school mate Aaron Marks, who had been texting Fuchs all day about meeting up to buy a couple of ounces from him, Henderson said.
Marks brought a crew of young men to Fuchs' house, including Bell, to confront the athletic 6-foot-4-inch, 215-pound teen, Henderson said. The plan, she said, was to ambush Fuchs.
A neighbor boy drove by minutes before the shooting and saw Fuchs in his driveway talking to another boy believed to be Marks, while other young men were crouched down in bushes across the street and near the house.
Fuchs' mother was washing the dinner dishes when she heard the shot. She rushed outside to find her son bleeding as her boyfriend cradled Fuchs in his arms.
Shot once in the neck, Fuchs died early the next morning, around the same time Bell arrived at his girlfriend's house in Richmond, the prosecutor said.
Bell was at the house again two days later when Danville police, following cellphone leads, knocked on the door.
Henderson said Bell told investigators a few inconsistent stories about his whereabouts the night Fuchs was killed and then took off running. The officers chased him, but Bell got away.
That's when Bell's girlfriend told police that Bell admitted to killing Fuchs. A friend of Bell's later called police to say that Bell confessed to him too, Henderson said. Bell allegedly told that friend that he meant to shoot the gun to scare Fuchs, not to kill him.
The defense attorney said the prosecution's case rests on testimony by Bell's girlfriend and friend, and neither of them are credible.
Bell is the only person prosecuted in connection with Fuchs' death. Marks was 19 years old when he was fatally shot in Oakland in November.
Witness testimony at Bell's trial begins Tuesday morning. If convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.