The fate of Samuel Cutrufelli - the admitted methamphetamine user who shot a 90-year-old Greenbrae man in his home - was in the jury's hands Tuesday after his lawyer made a final effort to discredit the accuser.
Defense attorney Sanford Troy said the Greenbrae resident, Jay Leone - a weightlifting World War II veteran with a gun collection - fabricated a "fish tale" about heroically fending off Cutrufelli during a burglary.
Troy argued that Cutrufelli was there to buy drugs from one of Leone's women tenants, that Leone shot up Cutrufelli even though his life was not in danger, and that Leone tampered with evidence to avoid culpability. Troy said Leone was jealous about a younger man coming to visit one of the women he lived with.
"If you look up 'reasonable doubt' in the dictionary, you're going to see 'People vs. Cutrufelli,'" Troy said Monday, the first day of closing arguments. "We, in the defense, have to prove zip. El Zippo, as they say in Spanish."
"This case stinks like fish that hasn't been in the refrigerator for a week," he added later.
The prosecutor, Dorothy Chou Proudfoot, methodically undercut the defense's theory of events, saying much of its argument is irrelevant, speculative or unsupported by the evidence. Proudfoot said Leone was legally justified in defending himself against a life-threatening intruder.
"There's no ambiguity when you shoot somebody in the head," she said Monday.
"You shoot somebody in the head, you're trying to kill them."
Cutrufelli, a 31-year-old Petaluma resident who grew up in Novato, faces a potential life sentence on charges of attempted murder, robbery, burglary and other counts. He did not testify at the trial, which began Oct. 3 before Judge Andrew Sweet.
The shooting occurred at about 10:45 a.m. Jan. 3 at Leone's home on Via La Cumbre. Authorities allege that Cutrufelli, a drug user with an assault record, broke into Leone's home, put a gun to his head, tied his wrists and rummaged through the bedroom for valuables.
Leone said he wriggled his hands free, convinced the burglar to let him use the bathroom, and retrieved one of his guns from the bathroom. In the ensuing gunfight, Leone was shot once in the face and Cutrufelli was shot four times in the body.
The defense said the evidence showed that Cutrufelli was shot once in the back, as though while fleeing. Proudfoot said that the evidence does not prove which way the bullet entered, and that it is irrelevant because Leone was fighting for his life in his own home.
"Mr. Leone had had the right to save himself," she said.
Contact Gary Klien via email at email@example.com
©2012 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.)
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