MARTINEZ -- A 51-year-old man fired the shot that killed a 20-year-old Richmond man in 2009, but it was his 24-year-old son who set the deadly event into motion, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday at the opening of a murder trial for the father and son from the unincorporated West Contra Costa area of Tara Hills.
Defense attorneys for Charles "Mike" Titlow and his son Charles "Chuck" Titlow said they will ask the jury to acquit the pair of murder charges in the Aug. 19, 2009, slaying of Ricardo Colina in Tara Hills.
Two nights before his death, Colina, driving with his girlfriend and his cousin Jerry Owens, got into an altercation with Chuck Titlow on Tara Hills Drive. Prosecutor Mary Knox said the younger Titlow, with two passengers of his own in tow, was tailgating Colina.
After Colina stopped to ask why, Chuck Titlow used his truck to ram Colina's car twice. Upon exiting his car, Colina had to jump into some bushes to avoid Chuck Titlow running him over, Knox said.
Chuck did that because he believed someone in the car threw a bottle at him, his attorney Laurie Mont said. One of Titlow's passengers thought they saw a gun. Feeling disrespected, Chuck Titlow wanted to fight Colina, Mont said.
On the afternoon of Aug. 19, 2009, Chuck Titlow spotted Colina and Owens walking on San Pablo Avenue. He called friends and family members to tell them that he had found the guy who pulled a gun on him, and he was going to fight him by Nation's Giant Hamburgers, according to the attorneys.
Chuck Titlow got out of his truck and chased Colina; Titlow's friend chased Owens.
Colina and Titlow were exchanging punches on the street when Mike Titlow passed in his own truck and shot a .38-caliber round through his driver's window, Knox said. Colina was struck in the neck.
A retired probation officer saw Colina fall face first into the pavement and ran up to help. He asked, who did this?
"Help me, please," Colina replied, his last words before dying, according to Knox.
Several of Chuck Titlow's friends identified Mike Titlow as the killer after initially lying to investigators, Knox said. Detectives found evidence that a gun had been fired from inside his truck, which he hid at his mother's house in Chico after the shooting.
Although it was Mike Titlow who shot Colina, Chuck Titlow is also liable for the murder because it was "reasonable and foreseeable" that someone he invited to the fight could have showed up with a gun, Knox said.
Mont said it wasn't; Chuck Titlow didn't ask anyone to bring a weapon.
"None of these kids, including Chuck, believed anyone would have a gun," Mont said. "The evidence will prove he committed other crimes -- battery, assault, accessory after the fact -- but not murder."
Before the first witness was called to the stand Wednesday, Judge John Kennedy told jurors that Jerry Owens is deceased because of circumstances unrelated to this murder case. He was killed in North Richmond in March 2011 in what police described as a gang-related shooting.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.