OAKLAND -- Two men charged with murdering an innocent passer-by during a gunbattle at a busy Oakland gas station last year are each claiming they acted in self-defense.

Defense attorneys told jurors on Wednesday that they will be asking for acquittals for Donel Poston, 37, and Joe McNeely, 38, who are each charged with the murder of former Oakland Tribune freelance photographer Lionel Fluker and the attempted murder of one another.

Neither had any regard for the lives of the many people around them when they opened fire on each other at the Valero station on MacArthur Boulevard and Seminary Avenue on April 5, prosecutor Stacie Pettigrew said during opening statements Wednesday.

Fluker, 54, had spent the evening watching TV and doing laundry at a friend's house and was driving on Seminary Avenue toward his home located just a block away when he was hit in the forehead by a stray bullet that killed him instantly.

Pettigrew showed jurors gas station surveillance video that shows the two defendants talking before McNeely become animated and strikes Poston. Poston pulls out a gun and fires 10 shots at McNeely. McNeely then loads a clip into his gun and chases Poston out of video frame, at which time he fired numerous shots, including the one that killed Fluker, Pettigrew said.

McNeely was hit by several bullets, but none of his wounds were life-threatening.


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The fight between the two men started when McNeely, who also goes by Anthony Lister, called Poston's girlfriend an embarrassing nickname, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing for the defendants in October.

Defense attorneys Drew Steckler and David Bryden each said that their client was acting in self-defense that night.

Steckler, for McNeely, said it was not a gunbattle, like described by the prosecution, but an attack by Poston that forced McNeely to react in the heat of passion.

Bryden, for Poston, said his client saw McNeely reaching for his gun before he fired shots himself.

Testimony begins Thursday.

Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.