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Hawaii man testifies he did not mean to kill shooting victim

April 11, 2019

KEALAKEKUA, Hawaii (AP) — A Hawaii man has testified he did not intend to kill a man during an altercation with the victim and a third man who was wounded.

Brian Lee Smith, 50, is on trial for second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder, first-degree attempted murder, and gun charges, West Hawaii Today reported Wednesday.

Thomas Ballesteros Jr. was killed in South Kona on the Big Island in June 2018, authorities said.

Nikolaus Slavik suffered three gunshot wounds while fighting with Smith after Ballesteros was shot, police said.

During cross-examination by prosecutors, Smith said he smoked methamphetamine the night before.

An autopsy on Ballesteros confirmed he had methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death, according to Lindsay Harle, a forensic pathologist who testified Tuesday.

Smith testified Ballesteros threw a rock that hit his motorcycle and helmet, setting off the altercation.

“Made me feel scared,” Smith said.

He and the victim began arguing about a theft of Smith’s property, according to Smith, who said they also had previous arguments regarding Smith’s roommate, who was Ballesteros’ ex-girlfriend.

Smith said he retrieved a gun used to shoot pigs on a farm in an attempt to make Ballesteros and Slavik leave the area.

“I intended to fire a shot over his head, but he was too close to me,” said Smith. “Didn’t want him dead — wanted him to leave.”

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Information from: West Hawaii Today, http://www.westhawaiitoday.com