Defense attorney Jesse Cosby referred to the case against his client, David Vega, as failure of the system.
Vega is charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of his son, Christopher Lee Vega, 25, and his son’s girlfriend, Alisa Michelle Montgomery, 31. He is also facing three counts of attempted murder for the three police officers who were shot in the early morning hours on May 10, 2010, along with one count of attempt to commit a violent felony.
Cosby summarized the Vega case “as a case of overload from David Vega on down or David Vega on up.” He was referring to the reaction of the police after the shooting.
He said his client’s experiences prior to May 10, also was a testament to the failure of the system. “He called the police multiple times.”
Cosby said Vega was told by the police when he asked [auth] them to help him evict his son from his house that his problem was a civil matter.
“You have a dysfunctional family,” said Cosby. He pointed to the drug use on the part of Vega’s wife and his son, and Vega’s suspicions that Christopher was supplying drugs to Kathy Vega, Vega’s wife. But he noted that “they were people with good hearts who wanted to help out. … This is the crescendo of emotions that lead to the night when the family finally erupted,” he said.
Cosby told the jury that the state’s case and the charges of attempted murder shifted the focus from the man and the woman who got shot, to the police.
He said the later inquiry by police “was because the police were involved.”
Cosby attributed the 45 caliber casings and the 223 shell casings retrieved by the police at the scene to the weapons police carried. He pointed out that the wounds police officers received where from bird-shot, not the ammunition of choice if the intent was to kill police officers.
Cosby referred to the wounds Vega received, “four shots to the chest with one square, dead center in his client’s back.”
He set the scene when police arrived at the 1007 Rancho Road residence. “It was pitch black. … The police don‘t know who is where. They are panicked. … Our system, their system, had failed.”
He explained that the police could not see each other and had concerns about being caught in another officer’s crossfire. He discussed the tape recording during the events of the night. “You will hear Officer Rightsell say after Vega had been shot, ‘If you move even half an inch I’m going to kill you.’ The system failed and my client’s only concern was for his dog. He didn’t want the police to shoot his dog.”
In his opening statements, Assistant District Attorney Michael Murphy reviewed the events of the day of May 9 that led up to the murder of Christopher and Alisa Michelle. He spoke of the two calls to the police over a family conflict which eventually resulted in Vega’s arrest on charges of disorderly house.
Murphy described Vega’s actions after he bonded out of jail and returned to the Rancho Road residence where his nephew Jeremy heard multiple shots and saw his cousin’s (Christopher’s) body laying on the floor. After the shooting Vega told Jeremy to leave the house so he would not “get mixed up in all this” and asked Jeremy to give him some time before calling the police, Murphy said.
“During that short interval he had the time to stage a number of weapons,” Murphy said.