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UPDATE: Opening statements begin in Canyon Country shooting

Jurors to decide if killing was murder or self-defense

Posted: October 24, 2012 3:16 p.m.
Updated: October 24, 2012 6:03 p.m.

SAN FERNANDO — Opening statements began Wednesday in the case a Canyon Country man who allegedly shot his neighbor a year ago — with prosecutors calling him an “executioner” and defense lawyers saying he shot a “prowler” in self-defense.

Lennie Paul Tracey, 52, clean-shaven with gray hair combed neatly back, sat beside his lawyer in San Fernando Superior Court and listened to both sides explain the events of Sept. 24, 2011, that led to his arrest for allegedly shooting and killing his neighbor Anthony Davis.

A jury of six men and six women listened first to Deputy District Attorney Richard Gallegly tell them: “This case is about a man who lost control, about a man who took the law into his own hands, about a man who acted as judge, jury and executioner in the death of his neighbor.”

Defense lawyer Loren Mandel told them: “This is not a case of a neighbor dispute that ended in a killing; it is the killing of an intruder on a person’s property at three o’clock in the morning.”

Both lawyers told jurors they will have plenty of visual evidence to review since much of the fateful night was recorded by video surveillance cameras set up by both the accused and the victim.

Tracey and wife, Sandra, lived on the Calypso Lane cul-de-sac next door to Anthony Davis and his wife, Cindy, the prosecutor said, framing his argument that the shooting followed a long-festering feud between neighbors.

Both Tracey and Davis were 51, and both were disabled.

Gallegly showed the jury aerial photographs of their side-by-side houses, then photos of “mean, malicious professional-grade” signs posted on the Tracey house facing the Davis house.
In response to the signs and other incidents of antagonism, Davis installed eight surveillance cameras around his house.

Tracey, in turn, built a six-foot-tall wooden fence between the two houses and mounted infrared sensors on top of it. Later, he added floodlights.

Gallegly closed his slide show with two explicit police photos, one showing the bloody body of Davis face-up on the sidewalk with a shotgun blast wound to his chest, and the other showing Davis with a shotgun wound to his back.

“You’re going to hear the coroner that this wound was a fatal wound ... two to four feet from the muzzle of the shotgun,” he said, referring to the chest wound.

In closing his argument with a photo of the back wound, he said: “You’ll hear that this, too, was a fatal shot ... between five and six-and-a-half feet from the muzzle.”

Gallegly finsished by saying: “Once you see the evidence, you will return a verdict of guilty for first degree murder.”
As he sat down, jurors stared at the projected image of the victim’s bloody body on the overhead screen.
Superior Court Judge David B. Gelfound said: “Turn off the (projection) machine, please.”

Mandel told the jury: “This is not the killing of a neighbor but the invasion of a prowler into a home.

“This man,” he said, waving his hand high to single out Tracey, “was justified in the shooting.”

Mandel said jurors would see video evidence of Davis going to the Tracey house at 3 a.m. and, using a power drill, remove screws from the partition fence.

Mandel then lifted a flashlight in the air and, for a second, shone it in the face of jurors, telling them that Davis used a flashlight while dismantling the fence the night he died.

He said Davis exhibited signs of violence following brain surgery in 2008, citing a particular incident that year in which an argument escalated to the point of Davis hitting his own wife with his car.

The trial continues with witnesses Thursday.




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