A Paso Robles woman testified Wednesday that she was two or three steps behind Marshall Savoy as he aggressively moved toward her husband inside their home. But, Joyce Yanaga tearfully told a jury, she didn't know at the time that her husband was holding a handgun.
"I got to the doorway and saw Marshall lunging toward Tom and heard 'Pop! Pop! Pop!' " Yanaga said.
Immediately afterward, she testified, Savoy spun around, pushed her out of the way and ran toward the garage.
Savoy, 32, was shot five times, a pathologist testified previously, and collapsed in the Yanagas’ driveway, where he died.
"I looked at Tom and said, 'What the hell?'" she said. "Tom's face is, like, white, and he looked like pure disbelief."
Thomas Nolan Yanaga, 53, has been charged with murder. But Joyce Yanaga said he acted in self-defense when an angry Savoy — younger and more muscled than her spouse — charged him.
Joyce Yanaga was called to the stand during the prosecution’s case, even though her testimony supports her husband’s defense. She had previously refused to testify at a preliminary hearing, claiming marital privilege.
Savoy came to the Yanaga residence during the evening of March 13 to visit his girlfriend, Ashley Moss, who had briefly been staying with the Yanagas. While in a trailer located on the Yanaga property, Savoy heard the Yanagas arguing inside the house, then went to assist Joyce Yanaga, Moss testified previously.
Joyce Yanaga said part of the argument with her husband was about Moss. Thomas Yanaga had invited Moss to stay with them until she entered a sober living facility, Moss testified last week.
"I said something that aggravated Tom," Joyce Yanaga said. "I told him I was tired of Ashley being at the house, and she needed to go."
Moss, she testified, made her "uncomfortable."
"He told me I was selfish," Joyce Yanaga testified.
Joyce Yanaga said her husband had a history of inviting people to stay at their home, and she preferred he help their 17-year-old son instead.
"I was tired of being uncomfortable at my own house," she recalled. "I told him I wanted a divorce. I'd had enough."
As they argued in their garage, she said, they heard three loud bangs on the metal door. Then someone entered the house through the front door.
Savoy, she said, was angry and irritated when he entered the garage from a side door.
"He told Thomas to quit yelling," she said. "He was tired of hearing him yell … (He said), 'Don't yell at your wife. Respect her. Don't yell at her. Quit dissing your wife, dissing women. You're a dog. I can beat you down.' "
Thomas Yanaga asked Savoy to leave multiple times, she said, but Savoy, with clenched fists, remained.
Sitting in a chair, Thomas Yanaga listened, she said, as Savoy grew more agitated, saying, "I'm gonna smash your head in." At one point, she said, Savoy took his shirt off and threw it at her husband.
"He was starting to flex his arms … trying to provoke Thomas to fight him."
Savoy also demanded the keys to one of the Yanaga's vehicles, she said. Moss testified previously that they had asked Thomas Yanaga to use a car.
After Savoy threw the shirt, he demanded Thomas Yanaga get it, Joyce Yanaga said. After Thomas Yanaga stood up, he went to the kitchen, she said. There, she added, her husband called for her.
"Marshall got there before I did," she said.
The trial has featured conflicting testimony of two eyewitnesses — Moss and Joyce Yanaga. While they both agreed that Savoy responded to an argument between the Yanagas, they differ as to what occurred afterward.
Moss previously testified that she was outside the house looking through a kitchen window when she saw Thomas Yanaga calmly get a gun from the kitchen, with a "happy smirk" on his face, then walk toward the garage and call out, "Hey, Marshall." Then, Moss said, she heard gunshots.
Joyce Yanaga said she never heard her husband say, "Hey, Marshall." Instead, she testified, her husband shouted, "Get out of my house!" as Savoy entered the kitchen from the garage.
"I thought he was gonna beat the crap out of Tom," she said.
As Savoy lunged, she said, she heard gunshots.