Monday, April 9, 2012
Closing arguments are scheduled today in the trial of a transient accused of shooting at motorists on a San Diego freeway last year, wounding a college student and damaging another man's car.
Stephen Dragasits, 59, is charged with attempted murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle and assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and faces 43 years to life in prison if convicted.
In her opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Chandelle Konstanzer said 21-year-old University of San Diego student Ashley Simmons was shot about 7:15 a.m. on April 5, 2011, as she drove southbound on state Route 163 near the Clairemont Mesa Boulevard exit, but didn't immediately realize she'd been wounded and drove to school.
Later at a hospital, doctors discovered that a bullet had entered her back below the shoulder blade and injured her lung, abdomen and kidney before becoming lodged in her liver.
A second motorist, Jeffrey Lloyd-Jones, was driving in the same area that morning when he heard a loud noise about the same time but continued on to work, Konstanzer said. She said Lloyd-Jones later discovered a bullet hole in his car but thought it might been stray gunfire from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
Konstanzer told the jury that Dragasits, who was known to hang out in the area near his motor home, was convicted of a misdemeanor charge for throwing rocks at cars about a month earlier but was free when the "unprovoked" freeway shooting occurred. A search of the defendant's motor home turned up shell casings and a rifle scope, she said.
DNA found on .22-caliber casings recovered on the freeway matched the defendant's DNA, according to the prosecutor.
Defense attorney Euketa Oliver told jurors in her opening statement that the freeway casings were tested as a group and could have been contaminated at a lab.