SAN DIEGO – A man shot a well-liked Clairemont resident in the back of the head, a prosecutor told a jury Wednesday, but the defendant’s attorney claimed the victim told police before dying that a different man shot him and alleged that prosecutors went after his client on the basis of contaminated DNA evidence and poor conclusions regarding ballistics.
Jeffery Alan Turner, 37, is charged with murdering 52-year-old Frank “Pancho” Magana on Jan. 3, 2018.
Magana was shot in the back of the head around 7 p.m. while exiting the front door of his home in the 4600 block of Sauk Avenue. Officers found him on the ground in front of his residence and provided medical aid to the victim before he was transported to a local hospital, where he died on Jan. 16.
Deputy District Attorney Kristie Nikoletich told jurors in her opening statement that a friend of Magana’s was at the home and heard someone approach the victim and twice say “It’s J.T,” just before the shooting. Magana’s friend did not see the shooter, but later informed police she knew the defendant and believed he was “J.T.,” Nikoletich said.
Police searched a home where Turner was staying, turning up a revolver that was matched to the splintered pieces of a bullet found in the victim and at the shooting scene, the prosecutor alleged. She also said that both Turner and Magana’s DNA were found on the gun.
Surveillance video taken from the home where Turner was staying was played for the jury by Nikoletich, who alleged that Turner could be seen celebrating outside the residence hours after the shooting. The prosecutor also said Turner was making speeches to someone off camera and mimicking bowling strikes.
None of the eight cameras situated outside the home showed that he was at the residence at the time of the shooting, she said.
No motive was provided by the prosecution, but Nikoletich said Magana appeared annoyed when “J.T.” showed up at his home, indicating they likely knew each other.
Turner’s attorney, John O’ Connell, told jurors that while hospitalized, Magana repeated the name “Elijah” to officers when they inquired about the shooter.
“The prosecutor is going to ask you not to believe the victim, who had no reason to lie,” O’ Connell told the jury.
The attorney alleged that the prosecution’s ballistics evidence matching the revolver to the bullet was “bad science.”
He also said Magana’s DNA on the revolver was not the result of “blow back” as the prosecution claimed, but rather contamination from investigators, who he claimed inadvertently transferred Magana’s DNA from the shooting scene to the gun.
Further, he said the victim’s DNA did not come from blood, as one would expect, and that it was found on a part of the gun that made no sense in relation to the shooting.
Turner, who faces life imprisonment if convicted, is being held in lieu of $5 million bail.