General Crime

Donald Britton allegedly fatally shot Leo Dunson in Oakland premeditation not decided

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A prosecutor and a defense attorney agreed today that Donald Britton fatally shot a man who had been stalking his sister but they strongly differed on whether he premeditated the man’s death. In her closing argument in Britton’s trial on a murder charge for the death of 50-year-old Leo Dunson in the 2900 block of High Street on June 4, 2011, prosecutor Stacie Pettigrew said the slaying was “totally premeditated” because Britton’s “plan was to murder” Dunson.

Pettigrew said Britton, 38, “didn’t give this man (Dunson) any chance to explain himself or defend himself” when he confronted Dunson and instead simply started shooting at him. Pettigrew, who said Britton should be found guilty of first-degree murder, said Britton “was going to keep shooting until his bullets ran out or Leo was dead.” But defense attorney Kathleen Guneratne said Britton should be found not guilty because he acted in self-defense after Dunson fought with him and choked him.

Referring to Britton’s testimony earlier this week, Guneratne said Britton “said the guy (Dunson) came after him and he felt his life was in danger.” Britton “didn’t go there to kill the guy (Dunson),” Guneratne said. The defense attorney said, “It’s no mystery — you know who killed Mr. Dunson but you need to figure out what was in his (Britton’s) head and if his conduct was justifiable.

” The key witness in the trial was Britton’s sister, Chantelle Britton. She didn’t testify at Britton’s preliminary hearing in early January because she hid from authorities but she was recently arrested and ordered to testify at his trial. Chantelle Britton testified that she was afraid of Dunson because he had been following her, including the night before the fatal shooting. She said she wanted her brother to talk with Dunson but didn’t ask him to harm Dunson and didn’t know he had a gun.

Chantelle Britton said she pointed out Dunson to her brother on June 4, 2011, and then walked away. She said that when she heard gunshots a short time later she felt guilty because she had asked her brother to talk to Dunson. Guneratne told jurors today that they should be skeptical about Chantelle Britton’s testimony because at one point she also was subject to prosecution for first-degree murder for pointing out Dunson to her brother.

Donald Britton remained at large until last Aug. 1, when he was arrested at his job at a Walmart store in Carson City, Nev. Pettigrew said if Donald Britton had truly acted in self-defense he wouldn’t have fled the shooting scene and dramatically changed his appearance by cutting the long dreadlocks he had sported for 10 years. “People who truly act in self-defense feel justified, stay at the scene and talk to the police,” Pettigrew said. “They don’t run.” Jurors will begin deliberating Britton’s fate on Monday morning.

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