Man to claim self defense in shooting of high school football player

Apr. 24, 2013 @ 02:05 PM

A man charged with shooting and killing a Pennsylvania high school football player who was traveling through Durham with his team plans to claim he shot the teenager in self defense.

Gabriel James Gamez, 24, of San Antonio is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Darrell Turner, 18, and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury in the wounding of Thomas Woodson. He faces five counts of attempted murder and four counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill for allegedly shooting at their teammates.

On June 23, 2011, Gamez and Woodson and other members of the Gateway High School football team from Monroeville, Pa., were walking in the parking lot near the AT&T store near U.S. 15-501 and Mt. Moriah Road when they encountered Gamez.

Gamez opened fire on the group, killing Turner and wounding Woodson. They did not know each other.

The team had visited UNC and Duke as they traveled to a football camp in Florida. They were staying at a nearby hotel.

Gamez also was visiting the area, reportedly to attend a funeral, and was staying at another nearby hotel.

Before jury selection began Monday morning in the Durham County Courthouse, Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner from Raleigh questioned Gamez about his decision to move forward with his claim of self defense. By claiming self defense, Gamez is essentially admitting he committed the crimes.

"So this isn't a who done it, it's a why it was done," Gessner said.

The judge said he wanted to make sure Gamez understood  the possible consequences of claiming self-defense.

Gamez, wearing a dark suit and gold tie, stared at the floor in front of him as he answered the judge's questions.

Later when the judge introduced Gamez to the potential jurors, Gamez turned at the urging of his lawyer, Rebecca Wiggins, to face the potential jurors sitting in the gallery. Again, he stared at the floor and did not raise his eyes to look at anyone.

Later, however, as attorneys questioned potential jurors, Gamez leaned forward in his seat and appeared to be paying close attention to the proceedings.

Jury selection is expected to continue today.

The state is not seeking the death penalty against Gamez.

Members of Gamez's family as well as members of Turner's family were in the courtroom Monday.