FELON CLAIMS SELF-DEFENSE IN SIMI VALLEY FIGHT, DEATH.
A parolee was the target and not the aggressor in a confrontation last fall that now has him facing a murder charge in the shooting death of a Simi Valley machinist, his defense attorney said Wednesday.
Defendant Thomas Shanti Blanks, 25, fired a .22 caliber pistol in self-defense after John Stephen Regos attacked him following a Sept. 3 brawl outside the MVP Sports Bar in Simi Valley, defense attorney Joe Villasana said.
``This was a case where my client was trying to defuse a potentially dangerous situation,'' Villasana said during his opening statement in Blanks' murder trial. ``He thought the situation had been defused when he turned his back and Regos attacks him. . . . The point is, my client was trying to run away.''
The prosecution opened its case with testimony from Regos' girlfriend, Patty Steck, who described what transpired as the couple walked home after the fight at the MVP.
Blanks, 25, and another man drove up as the couple neared the Shell gas station at First Street and Los Angeles Avenue, Steck said, and the defendant took a confrontational stance.
``I don't even know if they exchanged words,'' Steck said. ``Then John went over there and they fought.''
Steck said she heard five pops that sounded like gunfire, but assumed Regos was unhurt because the men continued to fight.
``I saw that they were still fighting, and I figured that if it was gunshots, that (Regos) was OK,'' Steck said. ``I walked over to him. I think I said, `What were those sounds? Were they gunshots?' He said, `Yes, I've been shot.'
``While we were walking up (to gas station entrance), he was getting weaker and weaker,'' Steck continued. ``He reached out with one hand like he was reaching for the door handle or to brace himself on the wall. And then he fell down.''
Blanks, who was on parole for auto theft, is charged with second-degree murder, a special allegation of use of a firearm and being a felon in possession of a gun. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 40 years to life in prison.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Apr 22, 1999|
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