A Paso Robles man charged with murder was the victim of a home invasion, a defense attorney told jurors Thursday, and had a right to shoot the intruder.
"We must never ever lose our right to protect our home and family within our own home," attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu told a jury during his opening statement.
Thomas Nolan Yanaga, 53, is charged with murdering Marshall Savoy, 32, of Atascadero. According to the prosecution, Savoy, who was visiting a girlfriend at Yanaga's property last March, intervened when Yanaga and his wife, Joyce Yanaga, argued in their garage.
When the argument turned between Savoy and Yanaga, a prosecution witness testified, Yanaga grabbed a semi-automatic handgun from the kitchen, called out, "Hey, Marshal" and fired several times, killing Savoy.
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But Yanaga told police that Savoy was angry and threatening, at one point taking off his shirt.
"I kept asking him to leave," Yanaga told detectives in a videotaped interview played for jurors. "I was scared."
Savoy threatened to bash his head in, he told detectives.
Before the shooting, Yanaga opened the garage door leading to the driveway and asked Savoy to leave again, Funke-Bilu said. When Savoy remained, Yanaga walked into the kitchen and called for his wife. But Savoy blocked Joyce Yanaga and went after her husband.
By that time, Yanaga had the gun.
Prosecution witnesses said there were two cell phones in the kitchen, which Yanaga could have used to call for help. But Funke-Bilu said his client had no time.
"He didn't want to shoot Marshall Savoy, but he couldn't understand why this man was acting so belligerently," he said.
Funke-Bilu said the prosecution case hinges on the testimony of drug addicts and felons.
Attorneys are expected to offer closing arguments Monday.