Thursday, March 15, 2012

Redding, CA: Ex-boyfriend details deadly shooting; Redding woman on trial, facing murder charge

A Redding man bound for a 32-year stay in prison described in Shasta County Superior Court Wednesday how — and why — he shot and killed his one-time girlfriend's ex-boyfriend.

That woman, Vanessa Kay Williamson, 26, is standing trial for first-degree murder in the drive-by shooting that killed Daniel Ravnesh Khelawan, 28, in 2010.

Robert Lee James IV, a former Cub Scout and Central Valley High School graduate who admitted to being long-addicted to prescription drugs, took the witness stand Wednesday afternoon at his former girlfriend's trial.

"I was the shooter," James told the jury, saying he rapidly fired five bullets at Khelawan on Jan. 8, 2010, after he and Williamson found him driving on West Street in Redding, a few blocks away from the Shasta County jail. James said the shooting followed a heated cellphone and text message argument.

Under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett, James said although he was the lone gunman in the shooting, it was Williamson who convinced him to take along his father's gun on that January night and who also loaded the 9 mm Glock used to kill Khelawan.

Before the night erupted into gunfire, James said he and Williamson had been enjoying a quiet night at home.

When he was in another room, he said, Williamson "started screaming."

Williamson, who nearly constantly text messaged, told him she had just received a profane and threatening text from Khelawan, James said.

"She (repeatedly) said, 'He's going to kill my baby,'" James testified.

He said the two left his home to check on the welfare of her family, who were staying at the Capri Motel in Redding.

As they drove to the motel, James said, Williamson spoke on her cellphone with Khelawan, whom James had never met, and the dispute escalated into a screaming match involving all three of them.

When the two got to the motel, James said, Williamson's family told them everything was fine, and they began to look for Khelawan.

"I was nervous, but I consented and went along with her," James said.

He said he and Williamson had earlier hatched a plan to rob Khelawan to try to scare him and steal his prescription drugs. James said he had dismissed the plan.

But as part of that plan, James said, he was told he would need a gun for protection because Williamson told him Khelawan carried a gun.

Khelawan worked as a delivery man for a Sacramento business that delivered prescription drugs and other goods to businesses throughout the north state.

Williamson has claimed that Khelawan, whom she had dated and for whom she once had made deliveries, stalked her and threatened to harm her family after he demanded she pay him back for the money he spent to get her hair and nails done.

When he spotted Khelawan driving his car on West Street near Sacramento Street, James said, he thought he saw a gun in the other man's hand. James said he pulled the handgun from underneath a car seat and shot at Khelawan five times from the passenger window.

Khelawan's car swerved off the road and crashed in a yard, and the couple sped away, James testified.

No gun was found with Khelawan, police have said.

Bridgett said during her opening address to the jury last week that Williamson had broken off an intimate relationship with Khelawan in late 2009 after accusing him of cheating on her and then renewed a prior romantic relationship with James.

But Williamson's Redding defense attorney, Richard Farrell, has portrayed the victim as a jealous ex-con who desperately wanted to remain his client's boyfriend.

"She wanted to end the relationship, but he wouldn't let it go" Farrell told jurors last week, saying Williamson felt threatened by Khelawan and was afraid he would hurt her and her family.

James, who is expected to resume his testimony today, pleaded guilty in January to voluntary manslaughter, attempted robbery and other crimes in exchange for a 32-year, six-month prison sentence. He also gave up his appellate rights as a part of the pact.

Due to his cooperation with law enforcement, James is being kept away from the general population in Shasta County jail, where he's been housed since his arrest.

Williamson faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.

No comments: