MARTINEZ -- Jury deliberations begin Monday in the murder trial of a Berkeley man charged with killing a 17-year-old San Ramon Valley High School senior outside his Danville home during a marijuana robbery.
The prosecution Friday asked jurors to find 22-year-old Walter Bell guilty of first-degree murder in the Jan. 20, 2009, shooting death of Rylan Fuchs on El Capitan Drive.
Bell testified that he was smoking marijuana near Fuchs' house that night and heard the gunshot but that he had no part in the shooting or robbery. He said he suspects Fuchs was shot by Aaron Marks, Fuchs' former schoolmate and Bell's friend, who was killed in Oakland last year.
Deputy district attorney Jill Henderson said Fuchs was a small-time marijuana dealer who was set up to be robbed that night by Marks and Bell. Fuchs climbed out of his bedroom window to sell 4 ounces of the drug to Marks, not knowing that Marks had a crew of other young men lurking in the darkness.
Henderson said that once Bell emerged with a gun, Fuchs tried to retreat before Bell shot him in the neck. Bell later confessed as much to his girlfriend and a male friend, according to the prosecutor.
"I'm sorry, but the defendant is not here because he is young and black, like he says," Henderson told jurors. "He is here because all the evidence shows he planned this robbery ... and when the victim didn't comply, he shot him."
Deputy public defender Kirk Anthanasiou asked the jury for an acquittal. He said the prosecution's case relies on the inaccurate statements that Bell's friend and girlfriend made while under pressure by police.
Bell faces life in prison without possibility of parole if convicted.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.