Trial begins for man accused in 2 murders

SAN DIEGO — A gang member gunned down two men in about a month’s span in different parts of San Diego, leaving DNA and fingerprints behind at the crime scenes, a prosecutor said Monday, while a defense attorney told jurors that her client was a friend of one of the victims and only a bystander at the other shooting.

Deshaun Prescott, 28, is charged with the murders of Derion Elias White, 23, who was killed in East Village, and Greggory Davis, 18, who was slain in the O’Farrell neighborhood.

Police found White shot in the upper body just after midnight on June 29, 2016, near 17th Street and Island Avenue. He died at the scene.

Davis was killed on Aug. 2, 2016. Prescott allegedly opened fire on a group of people near the intersection of 61st and Alderley streets about 5:40 p.m., striking Davis and then-25-year-old Avery Ealy, who survived.

Prescott is additionally charged with the attempted murder of Ealy, and assault counts involving the others he allegedly fired upon that day.

Deputy District Attorney John Dunlap alleged that gang-related motivations were behind both killings.

The prosecutor said White, who was part of a gang allied with Prescott’s, was killed because a member of White’s gang killed a member of Prescott’s, triggering White’s “execution-style” murder.

Dunlap alleged that as White exited a tattoo shop and got into a car picking him up from the area, Prescott slid into the backseat of the vehicle and shot White, then fled.

The prosecutor said Prescott’s DNA was discovered on a utility box across the street from the tattoo shop, which he alleged that Prescott leaned against as he waited for White to exit the business. Dunlap also said that a palm print linked to Prescott was found on the car’s rear door, which Prescott allegedly opened before entering and shooting White.

Prescott’s attorney, Danaly Barajas, said White and Prescott were close friends, and that he mourned White’s death. She also alleged that the killing of Prescott’s fellow gang member was not actually gang-related, disproving the prosecution’s theory on Prescott’s alleged motive.

“There is no motive to support why Deshaun Prescott would want to kill his friend,” Barajas told the jury in her opening statement.

Dunlap alleged that Prescott and another man — whose identity is unknown and who remains at large — fired upon a group of people in the O’Farrell neighborhood because it was rival gang territory. In the shooting, which led to Davis’ death, Dunlap said someone fired back at the shooters, resulting in Prescott being struck in the foot.

Prescott left a blood trail, which police used to connect his DNA to the shooting scene. He showed up at an area hospital the following day.

Surveillance video and photographs allegedly show figures at both scenes that appear to match Prescott, according to Dunlap.

But Barajas said that no gun can be seen in Prescott’s hands in those recordings, if it is indeed Prescott in the footage. She also said he was in the O’Farrell neighborhood that day to visit a longtime friend when the shooting broke out.

Barajas also cautioned the jury to not readily accept the DNA evidence as gospel, as that kind of evidence “is not as black and white as (the prosecution) would like you to believe.”

Prescott was arrested Aug. 21, 2016, on a probation violation, but was officially arrested for Davis’ murder about a week later. The criminal complaint was amended about six months later to include a murder charge in connection with White’s killing.

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