Gamez claims football player showed gun first
Gabriel James Gamez, on trial for shooting and killing a Pennsylvania high school football player, testified Monday that he drew his gun and began firing at the players because one appeared ready to pull a gun.
Gamez, 24, is charged with the first-degree murder of Darrell Turner, an 18-year-old all-star football player from Gateway High School near Pittsburgh at the time of his death.
Gamez is also charged with multiple counts of assault and attempted murder for wounding another football player and shooting at four others.
Last week, the players testified they were on the way to Florida for a football tournament when they stopped in Durham for the night on June 23, 2011.
They testified to their view of an altercation that ended with Turner fatally shot.
Before Gamez took the stand, Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner asked him if it was his decision to testify. "Your honor, these false, malicious allegations must be addressed," Gamez answered
Under questioning by his attorney, Rebecca Wiggins, Gamez said he was an army veteran, was from San Antonio, Texas, and had been working for two years as a security officer for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
On June 23, 2011, he flew to Durham to attend the funeral of his mother's aunt, he said.
Asked how he prepared for the trip, Gamez said he packed items of clothing and protection.
When Wiggins asked him what he meant by protection, he said a Glock firearm, magazines and a storage case.
Later cross-examined by Assistant District Attorney Roger Echols, Gamez said he brought 45 to 50 bullets for the Glock.
When he arrived in Durham, his mother picked him up.
"I retrieved my items of protection, made sure it was loaded and secured it on my waistband …," Gamez said.
They drove to a nursing home where they collected the aunt's possessions.
They then drove to their hotel, SpringHill Suites Marriott, checked in and decided to eat at the Outback Steakhouse a couple hundred yards away, he said. They drove there and waited for other relatives.
At the Outback, he met Michael, a host there, in the restroom and asked him if he knew where he could buy marijuana.
Gamez got Michael's phone number and wrote it on his hand.
When his family finished eating, he told his mother he was going to stick around to buy marijuana, and she left to drive a relative home. He told her he'd wait at the restaurant for her return.
Later Gamez told jurors that he went outside and bought marijuana for $10 from Emily Donnell, another hostess. He invited Donnell and Michael to his hotel for a swim, and they declined. Donnell asked if he wanted to go swimming at a private pool, but he declined, he said.
((Clarification 5/2/13: An article Tuesday in The Herald-Sun about the trial of Gabriel Gamez reported Gamez testified that Emily Donnell, a hostess at a restaurant, sold him marijuana.
That was his testimony. However, in earlier testimony during the trial, another hostess at the restaurant, testified she was the person who gave Gamez marijuana that night.))
He told them he had items, including a handgun, he didn't want to leave unsecured.
On Friday, Donnell testified he showed the gun inside the restaurant and said he would shoot any black people who bothered him or his family.
Gamez Monday denied that conversation took place.
Gamez, waiting for his mother, walked back to the hotel, then back to Outback and finally started back to the hotel again. He passed a rowdy group, and then saw about 10 people come out of an alley.
"They were huge," he said. "They were aggressive. They were loud. They were out of control, pushing one another."
The football players testified last week they were skill players, not linemen, but admitted they were bigger than Gamez, who said he was 70 inches tall and weighed 140 pounds.
As they passed, he heard them whispering and felt something hit the back of his head, he said.
When he turned, everyone was pointing and laughing at him. He looked down and saw a big chunk of ice.
"I was hit in the back of the head, then an outburst of laughing started," Gamez said.
"I said, ‘why?'" Gamez testified. "I said, 'I didn't even look at ya'll.'"
He asked who threw something at him.
Whenever Gamez spoke about Turner, he referred to him as "the departed."
"The departed came forward and he grabbed his genitals," Gamez said. "'It was these nuts’ and then took another ice cube out of his cup, then threw them at me again and then his cup followed," Gamez said.
The cup didn't hit him, but landed near him, Gamez said.
The players stepped toward him, he said.
"Then I called the departed, I called him a pussy for throwing ice at me for no reason," Gamez said.
Gamez said he called them all pussies.
Asked if he called them niggers, he replied, "I did not."
Another player stepped forward, lifted his shirt and grabbed the butt of a gun in his waistband, Gamez said.
"I pulled my firearm and started firing while I was running backwards," he said.
Gamez said he wasn't looking in the direction he was firing, but when he looked and saw they were running away he ceased fire.
Wiggins asked him if he saw anyone on the ground bleeding, and he replied, "I didn't, ma'am."
Gamez testified he ran back to his hotel but doesn't remember much.
"Things get a little weird here," he said. "I just remember waking up inside the hotel, [on the] floor and when I woke up I was covered with sweat and I was crying," he said.
Asked why he didn't report the shooting to police, he said he wanted someone at his side.
The next thing he remembers was a phone call from an investigator saying police were outside, he said. Gamez dressed and surrendered, he said.
Under direct examination, Gamez denied he ever used a racial slur during the encounter with the players.
Gamez finished his testimony before lunch, and the defense called no other witnesses.
Judge Gessner denied the standard motion to dismiss, and told jurors to return today at 9:30 a.m. for closing arguments.