Closing arguments were under way this morning in the trial of a 24-year-old East Palo Alto man accused of fatally shooting another man after a 2009 parking dispute went horribly wrong. Dante Strauter, who wore a gray vest, white shirt and dreadlocks in braids during this morning’s proceedings in San Mateo County Superior Court, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection the shooting death of 27-year-old Joel Long, which took place outside the victim’s home on Aug. 18, 2009. The dispute started when a female cousin of Strauter’s refused to move her car and allow another woman to drive out of Long’s driveway at 2246 Ralmar Ave., Deputy District Attorney Joe Cannon said. Strauter’s cousin eventually moved her car after a verbal argument, but she quickly returned with Strauter, who was armed with a .40-caliber handgun, Cannon said.
Strauter and Long confronted each other in front of the victim’s garage, and Long was shot three times, twice in the back and once in the leg, Cannon said. Defense attorney Geoff Carr has argued that the shooting was in self-defense, an argument that prosecutors called “absurd.” “This isn’t an accident, this isn’t self-defense,” Cannon said. “This is murder.” Cannon said that Strauter went to Long’s home looking for a fight, and planned his attack by arming himself. “There are a lot of bad things happening on the streets of East Palo Alto, and he’s one of them,” Cannon said, pointing at the defendant. A jury of eight men and four women was expected to begin deliberations this afternoon. Strauter faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
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