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CA- Defense opens in Magalia murder trial

Darrin Lee Pacheco killed: Paul Prestridge 28 because he called him a "chomo lover" (i.e. means child molester lover in prison jargon). See case on appeal!

3-10-2008 California:

OROVILLE -- The defense is scheduled to open its case today in the Darrin Pacheco Magalia murder trial.

On Friday, an autopsy surgeon testified that allegedly during a fight with the defendant's brother, Paul Prestridge, 29, of Magalia suffered stab wounds to the back, leg and chest — the latter thrust done with enough force to puncture all the way through his heart.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Thomas Resk said the wounds were "consistent" with having been made by a steak knife, which at least three witnesses claimed Pacheco, 39, of Auburn had grabbed that night from the kitchen in his brother's home.

Pacheco's attorney, Robert Marshall, has argued that whatever his client did, he was lawfully justified in protecting the life of his brother, Rick Pacheco.

Witnesses at a barbecue in the brother's home on Sept. 3, 2006, have testified that Prestridge, who like Darrin Pacheco had served time in prison, punched the defendant's brother several times in the face, after accusing him of being a "chomo-lover."

A former prison official called by the defense attorney told the jury on Friday that is inmate-talk for someone who befriends a child molester.
Outside of the jury's presence, Marshall asserted that by that statement Prestridge had, in effect, "marked (the brother) for death."

But because there was no evidence what was in the defendant's mind, or even whether he knew what the term "chomo" meant, deputy district attorney Kurt Worley objected to the defense using the phrase to try to "create a defense" to the fatal stabbing.

Butte County Superior Court Judge Gerald Hermansen agreed with the prosecutor, and would only permit the prison expert to testify that child molesters are reviled by inmates and must be placed into protective custody to prevent being attacked.
The Magalia homicide case is expected to go to the jury later this week.

The prosecution rested Friday, after calling Resk, who conducted the autopsy on the slain man.

The county pathologist said the fatal attack could have occurred as testified earlier by the brother's girlfriend, Amanda Baum.

She told the jury her boyfriend had the other man in a headlock on the floor, and heard Prestridge say, "I'm done, I'm going home" when the defendant made what appeared to be "punching motions" toward Prestridge.

Moments later, she claims she saw a steak knife on the floor near the combatants and placed it on a table.

Although a fingerprint expert was unable to obtain any usable prints from the steak knife, he testified to finding the defendant's bloody left thumbprint on a larger butcher knife, also recovered from the scene.

Baum alleges that Darrin Pacheco had the larger knife in his hand when he tried to return to the fight moments later, but that she managed to take it away from him.

The stab wound to the heart caused extensive internal bleeding, resulting in Prestridge's rapid death, Resk told the jury Friday.

He testified that the slain man also suffered numerous scrapes and bruises to his head and body, and what appeared to be a shallow cut to the back of one hand.

The prosecutor asked whether someone stabbed through the heart could have stood up, punched Rick Pacheco once more in the face and walked several feet toward the front door before finally collapsing, as witnesses have testified.

Resk agreed that while that might not be possible for some people, for a man of Prestridge's age and strength, it was "not unlikely."

The defense attorney got the pathologist to concede that because he couldn't determine the precise angle of the fatal attack, he couldn't rule out the possibility of the stab wounds being inflicted by the defendant's brother with his free hand, while he had Prestridge in a headlock.

Although the prosecution had the defendant's brother under subpoena, Worley chose not to call him as a witness during his case.

Last week, Pacheco's attorney had the judge direct the brother to be in court today, as a potential witness for the defense. ..more.. by TERRY VAU DELL - Staff Writer

Trial begins in alleged murder during altercation at party in Magalia

3-5-2008 California:

OROVILLE — Testimony got under way Tuesday in the trial of an Auburn parolee charged with a Magalia murder.
Darrin Lee Pacheco's attorney told the Butte County Superior Court jury the defendant was acting in lawful defense of his brother when Paul Prestridge, 28, was fatally stabbed with a kitchen knife during a physical altercation on Sept. 3, 2006, at a family barbecue at the brother's Crescent Drive Magalia home.

In his opening remarks to the eight-woman, four-man jury, deputy district attorney Kurt Worley acknowledged Prestridge initiated the fight by accusing the brother of befriending a child molester and throwing the first punch that night.

The prosecutor said witnesses will testify the defendant's brother had Prestridge in a headlock on the floor, when the 37-year-old suspect began "flailing his arms" over the combatants after retrieving two kitchen knives.

A woman at the party suffered a cut to a hand taking one of the knives away from him, according to Worley.

The mortally wounded man tried to punch the defendant's brother at least once more before collapsing and dying near the front door from a stab wound to the heart, said the prosecutor.

In asking the jury to acquit Pacheco of murder and assault charges, Chico defense attorney Robert Marshall contended the defendant was legally justified to prevent his brother from suffering death or serious injury.

Marshall said he would prove Prestridge, who had also spent time in prison, had a history of punching people, including a motorist and a fellow employee.
Witnesses will testify that when the name of a man came up from whom they might be able to purchase some marijuana that night, Prestridge claimed he was a "chomo," which is prison parlance for child molester, said Marshall.

When Prestridge questioned how Rick Pacheco could allow his daughter to go over to a child molester's house, and called him a "chomo lover," Marshall told the jury the defendant tried to mollify him by saying "I never saw any paperwork" to that effect.

The defense attorney alleges that when told to leave, Prestridge rushed at the defendant's brother, punching him several times in the face and drawing blood.

He said a reasonable person under that situation would also have believed Pacheco's brother was in "imminent danger of death or serious injury."

Among those present during the start of the fight, was Prestridge's fiancee, Mindy Johnson, who told the jury he had proposed marriage to her earlier that night.

She testified to only seeing her boyfriend slap the defendant's brother once with an open hand, after backing him against a wall.

She said she jumped on Prestridge's back at that point to try to pull him off, but he was able to fling both her and Darrin Pacheco off him.

Under questioning by Marshall, Johnson testified she took her oldest child across the street to her mother's home at that point, because she didn't want the tot to see Prestridge fighting, and also because "he is strong and I knew he could take care of himself."

She was getting ready to return to the party when she heard someone speeding away from the mobile home, the wail of an ambulance and arrived to find her fiancee not breathing on Rick Pacheco's front porch. ..more.. by TERRY VAU DELL-Staff Writer

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