A jury acquitted an Atascadero man on two charges of attempted murder Tuesday after a shooting incident last year involving his child’s mother, who was shot twice, and her male friend.
Despite the acquittal, the jury in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court found 31-year-old Troy Allen Sykes guilty on a lesser charge of attempted voluntary manslaughter in the July 6, 2010, incident in Paso Robles on Green Court.
Sykes was also found guilty of the additional charges of residential burglary, child endangerment and using a firearm during the commission of the crime.
He faces a possible maximum prison sentence of 21 years at his sentencing Dec. 6 before Judge Barry LaBarbera, according to the county District Attorney’s Office. The trial was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Fabiana Fede.
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Paul Phillips, the attorney who represented Sykes, said the acquittal on the attempted murder charges resulted from proof that the shooting wasn’t premeditated, saying his client went to the house with the intention to commit suicide.
Phillips said Sykes didn’t expect Erik Skupian to be at the home of Sykes’ ex-girlfriend, Amy Weber, on that July night. At one point during the incident, Sykes said, “I’m going to kill you,” to Skupian, according to those involved with the case.
Skupian, 41, was a friend of Weber’s but he wasn’t dating her, Skupian told The Tribune after the verdict.
Skupian said Sykes was peeping into the window of the home the morning of the incident and saw Weber and him inside.
Sykes returned several hours later and saw Skupian on the balcony, firing a shot above his head that missed him, Skupian said outside court.
The prosecution and defense differ on exactly what happened next. But Sykes entered the upstairs home with a baseball bat and gun.
Skupian said Sykes shot at him before Skupian jumped from the balcony. But Phillips argues no evidence showed that Skupian was targeted a second time.
Sykes then entered a room that Weber had barricaded herself in with their 4-year-old son.
Sykes fired two shots, one of which struck Weber in the shoulder and back of the head. Weber was able to seize the gun away from him, emptying it of ammunition, and in the process a bullet struck Sykes in the abdomen. Sykes also struck Weber with the baseball bat after he shot her. The injuries suffered by Weber and Sykes weren’t life-threatening.
Skupian left the courtroom before the complete verdict was read, calling the result “shocking.”
“I just don’t understand how they decided what they did,” Skupian said. “I fully expected guilty on all counts.”
The attempted voluntary manslaughter, which refers to an attempted killing in a time of passion, was found in the shooting attempt of Skupian but not of Weber.
The trial lasted six days and concluded Oct. 25 before the jury began deliberating, taking Friday off because of court furloughs.