SAN DIEGO -- A neighbor testified Thursday that he overheard an argument in a nearby apartment in San Carlos last year, then saw a man force a woman into the home at gunpoint before three shots rang out.
The testimony came as a preliminary hearing got underway for 32-year-old Roderick Lamar Harris, charged with murder and child abuse in the Oct. 12 death of his girlfriend, Vanessa Bobo, who was shot in the back as she shielded their 11-month-old son in her arms.
Bobo's 5-year-old son from a previous relationship was standing nearby and witnessed the shooting, authorities said.
Neighbor Bryan Fields testified he was watching television just after midnight when he started hearing noises and heard a woman yell for help.
The witness said he saw the 29-year-old Bobo and Harris on a patio, but the defendant forced the victim back inside their apartment.
Fields testified that he thought the incident was over, but then heard three gunshots and heard the defendant slam the door and leave the apartment on Lake Arrowhead Drive.
As he was getting off the phone with police, Fields said he heard a child scream and went to the couple's front door.
Fields said he opened the door and saw a baby on the couch and the 5-year-old standing there.
"I heard the (5-year-old) son say his dad killed his mom," the witness testified.
Deputy District Attorney Lindsey Carinci alleged that Harris -- a security guard and an avid shooter -- retrieved a .357 Magnum and followed the victim into her 5-year-old son's bedroom.
Bobo tried to shield their 11-month-old son from the defendant, but Harris fired, with one shot striking her in the back, severing her spinal cord and causing her to drop the baby, Carinci said. Neither child was injured.
Harris -- who had been in a dating relationship with Bobo for about four years -- fled after the shooting, but was arrested in the South Bay about 12 hours later.
A number of firearms were recovered from the couple's apartment, the prosecutor said.
The preliminary hearing will resume Wednesday in the courtroom of Judge Joan Weber. At its conclusion, the judge will determine if enough evidence was presented to order Harris to stand trial.
Harris faces life in prison if convicted.