Trial begins for grandfather accused of shooting grandson
The trial of a man accused of shooting his grandson began Wednesday when a prosecutor called three witnesses to describe the events of Aug. 16, 2001.
David Bayless, 71, sat in a wheelchair at El Dorado County Superior Court listening as two South Lake Tahoe police officers described what they saw that day — an apartment with empty beer bottles littering the room and 27-year-old Joshua Stone bleeding from a shotgun blast to the back.
Bayless faces 41 years to life in state prison if convicted on felony charges, including assault with a firearm with intent to cause great bodily injury, mayhem with special circumstance and being a felon in possession of a gun.
Stone lives in Illinois; paralyzed from the waist down.
Officer Phillip Williams testified that while on a coffee break at Denny’s Restaurant, he received a call from dispatch about a shooting at an apartment complex on Pentagon Road. He responded with other on-duty units and took cover behind a tree. He was third to arrive but the first to enter Bayless’ apartment after his colleague, Officer David Allen, pulled Stone out of the room.
What Williams saw was Bayless sitting in a messy living room while a 12-gauge shotgun leaned against a couch.
Williams said he and Allen made a move on the one-bedroom apartment after there were denials or no responses to the officers demands for the occupants to exit with hands visible.
Throughout the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Anthony Sears focused on details of the shooting and the character of Bayless before and after he was apprehended.
In turn, Simon Harvey, deputy public defender, described the scene before Bayless shot Stone and said his client cooperated with authorities.
Harvey addressed the 12-member jury about Stone wrapping his arm around his grandfather, whom he had met for the first time, to pull money out of Bayless’ shirt pocket while they were drinking at Lakeside Inn & Casino. Harvey alluded to future testimony of a cab driver who picked up an “insistent, aggressive, somewhat bizarre” Stone in the casino corridor.
The cab driver said Stone asked strangers for cocaine and believed he was Satan while “talking in a deep voice,” Harvey said.
But, according to the defense, the crescendo of his odd behavior occurred when Stone returned to the apartment and heard a comment from the woman, who was in Bayless’ apartment.
Bayless and the woman were talking the night of the incident after she ended a three year silent-treatment with Bayless, it was said during opening statement and later in testimony.
Earlier that day, Stone asked the woman to talk to his lonely grandfather. She complied.
While Stone was at the casinos, the officer testified that Bayless and the woman heard a phone message from somebody saying there was a contract on Stone’s life.
Stone returned and the woman commented on the message to him.
“(The woman) made a statement like ‘They may not come after you, they may come after your family,'” Williams said.
Stone then grew furious, picked the woman off the couch and heaved her out the front door, testimony revealed.
The woman then went to her apartment, collected herself and was going to get a 9mm handgun because she was afraid Bayless was in danger. It was then that Bayless’ shotgun was fired.
Sears asked Williams what Bayless told the woman after they learned about the contract on Stone’s life through the phone message. According to Williams, she said Bayless told her “Stone was an idiot who deserved to die.”
Sears targeted the defense’s stance that Bayless was cooperating with authorities after he was taken into custody. Detective Mark Tappen testified that Bayless was combative and hurled expletives at him while Tappen drove Bayless to jail. Tappen said Bayless then began talking of the incident.
“He began stating he had to shoot the other individual because he was afraid he would beat up some female,” Tappen said. “He stated he didn’t intend to shoot him, just wanted to shoot him in the leg.”
Because jury selection took less time than expected and only close-by witnesses were called Wednesday, the trial is scheduled to resume Monday at 8:30 a.m.
— E-mail William Ferchland at firstname.lastname@example.org
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