Attorneys gave their opening statements Wednesday in the trial of Demarcus Barker, 32, homeless, who is accused of shooting Willie Lee Ricks Jr., then 30, of Red Wing, in a Zumbrota gas station parking lot last fall.
Barker faces 10 charges, including two counts first-degree attempted murder, one count of second-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault.
Goodhue County Attorney Christopher Schrader started his argument by saying that he usually reserves opening statements for jury trials, not court trials, like in Barker's case.
"(It's) something I don't often do in a court trial," he said. "But this trial is just that important."
A jury trial for Barker was originally scheduled to begin Sept. 12, but Barker waived his right to a jury, and a court trial was scheduled as a result.
Schrader continued, saying that though Barker is facing attempted murder charges, Ricks "would have died," without medical care.
"Without significant emergency intervention, Willie Ricks wouldn't be here today," Schrader said.
Schrader said he would call a number of witnesses to the stand, including the two women who were with Ricks when he was shot, paramedics, police officers and a trauma doctor. Schrader added that he will have "one key piece of evidence," but wouldn't allude to what that was, saying he would share that in his closing argument.
"I'm going to ask the court to find defendant guilty on all charges," Schrader said in closing.
Defense attorney Timothy Dillon opened by saying that there is "no dispute" that the meeting between Ricks and Barker was a drug deal. But, Dillon said the case hinges on the question of "Who brought the gun?"
"That's what this case is about," Dillon said.
Dillon continued, stating that Barker did not bring the gun to the meeting and that Barker was wearing tight clothing and standing in plain sight of other people and of security cameras.
Instead, Dillon said, Barker found the gun in the passenger seat of the van that Ricks and two women arrived at the gas station in. Barker and Ricks then engaged in a "life and death struggle" in the van, Dillon said.
After Ricks was shot, Dillon said, Barker ran and took the gun with him, "for fear of being shot while he was running away."
Dillon also said the 911 call made by the two women after Ricks was shot will be played later in the trial and asked the court to "listen carefully" to it.
"(It's) very, very interesting," he said.
The trial is scheduled to continue into next week. Court administrator Yvonne Black said closing arguments could come Monday afternoon.