A 90-year-old Greenbrae man who was shot fending off a burglary suspect fabricated his story and is the real aggressor in the case, the defendant's lawyer said Wednesday.
Samuel Joseph Cutrufelli, who is charged with attempted murder in the gunfight, was actually defending himself from the alleged victim, Jay Leone, according to defense attorney Sanford Troy.
"The evidence is going to show that Mr. Leone manufactured his version of the case," Troy told jurors on the first day of Cutrufelli's trial.
Leone himself testified Wednesday, as he did during earlier hearings, describing his confrontation and shootout with the suspect. Leone was shot in the head and returned fire, striking the suspect several times.
"The .45 hit me right in the face here and went through the back of my head," Leone, a World War II veteran, told the jurors in a firm voice. "I didn't feel a thing."
Cutrufelli, who turns 31 on Saturday, is facing a potential life prison sentence in the case. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, residential burglary, residential robbery and firearms offenses by a felon.
The shooting occurred at about 10:45 a.m. Jan. 3 at Leone's home on Via La Cumbre. Authorities said Cutrufelli entered the home, put a gun to Leone's head, tied Leone's hands with a belt and rummaged through the bedroom for valuables.
Leone said he was able to wriggle his hands free, then convinced the burglar to let him
use the bathroom. Then he got one of the five handguns stashed in his bathroom, sneaked back to the bedroom and spotted Cutrufelli in his closet.
Cutrufelli allegedly fired his gun, hitting Leone in the face. Then Leone fired his gun.
"I said, 'F--- you, you son of a bitch, now it's my turn," Leone testified he told Cutrufelli.
Cutrufelli, who is 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, allegedly pounced on Leone, wrestled his gun away, put it to Leone's head and pulled the trigger.
"After trying to kill him once, he tried to kill him again," prosecutor Dorothy Chou Proudfoot said in her opening statement.
But Leone said he had intentionally fired all his bullets so there would be none left if he lost control of the gun. Cutrufelli left the house and drove off, but he was bleeding profusely and stopped the car a short distance away.
Troy, describing his client as a methamphetamine user, said the incident was "a drug deal gone bad," and that Cutrufelli was trying to flee when Leone, who was "armed to the teeth," shot Cutrufelli in the back.
Troy did not suggest that Leone himself was involved in drugs, but neither did he offer jurors a full explanation of the alleged drug deal. Leone had two tenants living in his home at the time.
"Essentially this case comes down to credibility," said Troy, who said Leone's story has "tons of inconsistencies."
The trial continues Thursday before Judge Andrew Sweet.
Cutrufelli, who has two children, was a Petaluma resident at the time of his arrest.
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