A Paso Robles resident who claims he killed a man in self-defense should have grabbed a cell phone instead of a gun, a prosecutor told jurors Tuesday.
But the defendant's attorney said his client had a right to protect himself and his family from a "crazy, drunk, out-of-control madman" who entered his home uninvited and threatened to harm him.
"It's fight or flight," Ilan Funke-Bilu told jurors. "That's not how you repel an assailant at midnight — ask for a timeout to call 911."
Thomas Nolan Yanaga, 53, is on trial for the murder of Marshall Savoy, 32, of Atascadero. According to the prosecution, Savoy was visiting a girlfriend staying at Yanaga's property last March when he overheard a loud argument between Yanaga and his wife in the Yanagas' garage.
Never miss a local story.
After Savoy intervened on Joyce Yanaga's behalf, the prosecution contends, Thomas Yanaga went into his house, grabbed a gun and walked toward an unarmed Savoy before shooting him five times, once in the back.
"There is no way that the killing of Marshall Savoy that night was done in self-defense," deputy district attorney Charlie Blair told jurors during his closing argument. "Marshall Savoy was a victim of a cold-blooded murder."
The night before the murder, two prosecution witnesses testified, Yanaga fondled a gun while boasting that he wanted to kill someone. Another witness said Yanaga had threatened to kill her two months earlier, bragging that he would tell police he shot an intruder.
Obsessed with guns, Blair said, Yanaga seized on an opportunity to kill someone when Savoy came to his wife's defense.
"(Savoy) was serving up the defendant's fantasy to him on a silver platter," Blair said.
After leaving the garage, Blair said, Yanaga walked past two cell phones to retrieve his handgun.
"He was in an angry rage and filled with a desire to kill," Blair said.
After Savoy was shot, he collapsed and died in the Yanagas' driveway.
Pointing to an enlarged photo of Savoy on the witness stand, Blair said, "Marshall doesn't get to come here to tell his story."
Funke-Bilu said the prosecution's key witnesses are drug addicts and felons. One testified in exchange for a favorable plea deal that would allow felonies to be removed from his record, he added.
Ashley Moss, who testified Yanaga had a "happy smirk" on his face before shooting Savoy, claimed to have difficulty hearing and distinguishing between dreams and reality, Funke-Bilu said in his closing statement. Her story changed, he said, and did not match physical evidence.
Savoy, he added, was drunk and angry that night, at one point taking off his shirt and goading the defendant, who asked him to leave.
"He took his shirt off because he wanted to fight," Funke-Bilu said. "He was demonstrating how buffed he was."
Yanaga was not obligated to call 911, Funke-Bilu said.
"He's in his own home. That's the safety zone."
Jurors can choose to convict Yanaga of second degree murder or voluntary manslaughter, or they can vote to acquit him.
Closing arguments will continue Thursday.