MARTINEZ -- Jury deliberations begin Thursday at the trial of a North Richmond man who testified he thought he was shooting at rival gang members when he fired upon a car carrying two young Muslims on an errand for their mosque in 2010.
Nickie Donald, 22, admits he fired the gun that killed 20-year-old El Cerrito resident Asama Ayyad and wounded Ayyad's 15-year-old passenger on June 25, 2010, at the intersection of 22nd Street and Bissell Avenue in Richmond. The victims were on an errand to buy juice for a gathering at the Masjid Al-Noor in Richmond when Ayyad's white Lexus coupe came under fire from Donald, who was driving a van.
Donald's attorney is trying to get him acquitted on a self-defense claim that Donald thought he was shooting at brothers Aaron and Markeith Miles -- two central Richmond gang members awaiting sentencing in unrelated murder and attempted murder cases.
In closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutor Satish Jallepalli asked jurors to convict Donald of first-degree murder for killing Ayyad, attempted murder for shooting Ayyad's friend and other felony charges for committing a drive-by shooting, shooting into an occupied vehicle and gang participation.
Jallepalli called the shooting an act of revenge, not self-defense, had Donald believed that it was the Miles brothers traveling in that white Lexus. He wanted to "get" the Miles brothers before they "got" him, the prosecutor said.
"The truth is, the defendant's
Defense attorney Brooks Osborne said Donald's fear of being shot stems from his experiences growing up in violent Richmond neighborhoods. He's been shot at numerous times, and has a bullet lodged in his brain. Just two weeks before killing Ayyad, he was fired upon by the occupants of a white Lexus.
On the night in question, Donald believed that he and his passengers, including two brothers, were in danger.
"Mr. Donald shot at this white car to protect himself and protect his brothers," Osborne said.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.