RICHMOND -- Jennell Wright fired a gun into her ex-boyfriend's car after he left her, a prosecutor told jurors, while a defense attorney said her client pulled the trigger to scare him while in a suicidal and disorientated state of mind.
Jurors heard the contrasting sides of the alleged crime on Monday as opening statements were presented in Wright's retrial in the courtroom of Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Leslie Landau. A year ago, another jury found Wright guilty of shooting into a vehicle in connection with Green's slaying but could not agree on the charge of first-degree murder by lying in wait.
Wright, 37, a Vallejo resident and WestCAT bus driver at the time of her arrest, is charged with the shooting death of Andrew Le'Mar Green, a County Connection bus mechanic, shortly after 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 23, 2010, in the parking lot of an apartment he shared with his new girlfriend in Pittsburg's Marina Park neighborhood. Green was shot as he sat in his car, having his customary after-work cigarette and a beer, after working a swing shift.
Green and Wright first met in 2002 while working at another bus company. They started a romantic relationship in 2004 but had broken up before their son was born in 2007.
In late 2009, the couple had arrived at a custody arrangement that gave Wright physical custody of their son while Green had him from Saturday to Monday, said Deputy District Attorney Lynn Uikema.
But while custody had been worked out, Wright was hatching a plan to kill Green, she said.
Hours before the shooting occurred, Wright is accused of loading up her mother's car with a gun she had paid $200 for on the street, along with ammunition and small bottles of antifreeze and then paying for a room at the Mar-Ray Motel on Railroad Avenue because it was the motel nearest Green's residence.
"She shot him three times at close range as he tried desperately to save himself. ... He tried to grab the gun, but to no avail," said Uikema, adding that police camera surveillance footage taken along Railroad Avenue shows Wright drove without headlights before turning them on. Later that same day, a motel housekeeper said that she saw that Wright had a gun and police Winnie Gin, a deputy public defender, told jurors it is undisputed that the shooting occurred.
"This is not what this case is about," Gin said, adding that the case revolves around what Wright was thinking at the time of the shooting.
Gin said that Wright was depressed and planning to kill herself, something she had tried to do two other times, and did not mean to kill Green.
"She checked into the Mar-Ray. That was the plan, she had a gun and was going to kill herself," said Gin, adding that Wright only decided to go talk to Green after she had consumed alcohol, pills and antifreeze.
"He was threatening to take away their son," Gin said. "She shot into the car to scare him."
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her at Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.