SANTA ANA – Before shooting an unarmed man in the stomach near the swing sets of an area park, a Huntington Beach man made his intentions obvious, a prosecutor told an Orange County jury Tuesday.
Derek Christopher Adams, 23, sent a series of menacing text messages on Oct. 22, 2010, to a woman he had a long-term on-and-off relationship with after he confronted her earlier in the day at another man’s house in Newport Beach, Deputy District Attorney Sonia Balleste said during closing arguments.
One text message from Adams read: “I’m driving to Newport. I’m going to beat the f— out of both of you.”
Balleste argued the text messages and the beating of Cody Masher, the man Adams found with his ex-girlfriend Lauren Schneider, set a tone of intent that Adams acted upon when he killed Gregory “Rooster” Heintz, 32, shortly after 3 p.m. at Murdy Park in Huntington Beach.
The prosecutor said Masher and Schneider recruited Heintz to retrieve Masher’s cellphone Adams had stolen during the fight.
She said Adams lured Heintz to the park under the pretext of returning the stolen phone, when in fact he had a gun stolen from his father.
When Heintz walked up to Adams in the park with his hands raised and asked, “What’s up,” Adams shot him once in the stomach without comment and then fled in a girlfriend’s car with the license plate covered, Balleste said.
But defense attorney Randy Driggs contended in his own closing argument that Adams was scared by Heintz’s gesture and fired the gun rashly out of fear. Driggs said Heintz was muscular with swastika tattoos and had been a gang member in the past.
Driggs said Adams was guilty of voluntary manslaughter, not first-degree murder. He insisted Adams did not necessarily know the license plate was covered, and he questioned why someone planning a murder would choose an open park to commit the crime.
Jurors in Superior Court Judge Richard King’s courtroom began deliberating Tuesday afternoon.
Adams is charged with murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree residential burglary and aggravated assault with sentencing enhancements for the personal discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury and death and the personal use of a firearm.
If convicted, Adams faces a maximum sentence of 59 years and four months to life in prison.
By PETER LARSON / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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