A story about the murder trial of Alamo resident Michael Littman incorrectly reported the date that Doris Penico suffered a fatal skull fracture. It occurred Aug. 27, 2012. The same error occurred in stories that appeared Dec. 17 and Dec. 18.
MARTINEZ -- Closing arguments are underway in the murder trial of an Alamo real estate broker and accountant accused of killing his next-door neighbor and beating her husband following years of animosity over a shared driveway.
The prosecutor seeks a second-degree murder verdict against 60-year-old Michael Littman, who she says attacked Doris and Victor Penico after stalking and harassing Doris Penico since 2004, when the Penicos moved into the gated Stonegate Drive community.
Retired attorney and mother Doris Penico, 59, died from a skull fracture she suffered Aug. 27, 2012, after she confronted Littman about filming her with his iPhone outside their homes. Prosecutor Molly Manoukian contends Littman purposefully pushed the woman as he was chasing her tax attorney husband, who was beaten bloody.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Michael Cardoza -- who will finish his closing argument on Tuesday -- has said it was Victor Penico who bumped into his wife as the two men chased after her. Cardoza seeks an acquittal for Littman, who is charged with murder, assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury and stalking.
The trial featured video from the Penicos' covert surveillance system that show the incident started that day when Littman started filming Doris Penico backing into the driveway easement that the two had been squabbling over. Littman says nothing as Doris Penico, and then her husband, tell him repeatedly to stop.
Then, suddenly, Littman says, "You hit me" and surprises Victor Penico with a roundhouse punch to his head. Littman shows "consciousness of guilt" in setting up a defense for himself throughout the attack in which Victor Penico never strikes back, Manoukian said.
He keeps repeating that Victor Penico is hitting him so the audio would be captured by his discarded iPhone because he was unaware that his actions were being captured by the cameras the Penicos installed the year prior after Littman gunned his vehicle at them in the driveway, forcing them to jump in some bushes, Manoukian said.
Cardoza argues that Littman was provoked to attack Victor Penico and beat him in the heat of passion, and that he never intended to harm Doris Penico. He characterizes Doris Penico as a woman obsessed over the driveway and harassing to all who treaded upon it. She was also taking pictures and filming videos of the Littmans, and they were filming her in anticipation of litigation over the driveway easement, Cardoza said.
"Who would have thought that someone would die? Who would have thought that would happen?" Cardoza said, arguing there was no intent by Littman to kill.
Cardoza will finish his closing argument and Manoukian will give her rebuttal argument on Tuesday, after which jury deliberations will begin. Littman is free on $1 million bail.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.