OAKLAND (BCN) — An Alameda County prosecutor told jurors today that a carpenter should be convicted of murder because he planned the fatal shooting of a tattoo artist in East Oakland six years ago in a “cold and calculated” manner.
In his opening statement in the trial of Michael R. Smith, 38, for the death of 45-year-old Montego Bey Joshua of Hayward on July 30, 2010, prosecutor Patrick Moriarty also alleged that Smith wrote a lengthy letter to his girlfriend coaching her to testify that he killed Joshua in self-defense.
Moriarty said that in the letter that Smith wrote about three months ago, he told his girlfriend, “You always said you wanted to be an actor at Oscar time” and that her testimony on the witness stand would be her chance to prove herself as an actor.
Moriarty said Smith told his girlfriend in the letter, which was intercepted by guards at the county jail, to “tell people he (Joshua) was trying to kill us and our baby.”
Oakland police said Joshua was shot in the 1000 block of MacArthur Boulevard at about 11:30 a.m. on July 30, 2010, and was pronounced dead at Highland Hospital about 40 minutes later.
Smith remained at large for nearly four years but was arrested and charged in March 2014. He was a suspect from the beginning but fled to Oregon.
Oakland police said Smith and Joshua worked together before they fell out over the business and other issues.
Smith’s attorney Mario Andrews admitted that Smith killed Joshua but said he did so only because “he was concerned for his safety” after Joshua put his hand on the lapel of his jacket, as he thought that Joshua was reaching for a gun.
Andrews said Smith and Joshua both belonged to the Wild Bunch motorcycle club in East Oakland but “something happened” that separated Smith from the club and Joshua threatened Smith and his girlfriend in a series of incidents before the shooting.
The defense attorney said Joshua had served time in prison for an assault with a deadly weapon conviction and “made it clear (to Smith) that he didn’t fear firing guns.”
Moriarty admitted that Joshua “might have been a bad man, a dangerous man” but said he didn’t pose a threat to Smith at the time of the shooting because he was unarmed at that time.
Pointing at Smith, Moriarty said, “That man called his shots and killed an unarmed man. That man killed Montego Bey Joshua with no justification.”
Moriarty said witnesses told police that Smith had said he would kill Joshua the next time he saw him.
Andrews didn’t say what charge, if any, Smith should be convicted of, but at Smith’s preliminary hearing in 2014 said Smith should only stand trial on the lesser charge of manslaughter.
However, the judge ruled that Smith should stand trial for murder.
Andrews said Smith will take the witness stand during his trial and testify that he shot Joshua in self-defense.