Prosecutor Says Siblings Planned Stepfather's Murder - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Prosecutor Says Siblings Planned Stepfather's Murder

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A teen was mad at her stepfather and plotted with her older brother to kill him, a prosecutor said Monday, while a defense lawyer told jurors the girl was involved in the initial planning of the crime but then tried to stop the killing.

Deputy District Attorney George Bennett told the jury that Brae Hansen, then 17, called her brother, Nathaniel Gann, in Arizona a few days before 63-year-old Timothy MacNeil was killed in his Rolando home, saying she wanted her stepfather dead.

Hansen called 911 around noon on July 19, 2007, and told police that a masked intruder surprised her and her stepfather, shooting him four times, including a final shot to the back of the head, the prosecutor said.    

When officers arrived, they found the girl standing 20-25 feet from her stepfather's body, with her hands tied behind her back.

"She appeared to be frightened," Bennett told the jury. "Police treated her as a victim and a witness."

Hansen, now 19, initially told authorities that she had "no idea" who the masked intruder was and had no idea why the crime happened. The defendant started out a "good actress," but that all unraveled when she "slipped" and called the intruder "Nathan," the prosecutor said.

After she was arrested, Hansen told police that she and her brother had planned MacNeil's murder for several days, Bennett said. She said she was mad at her stepfather, Bennett told the jury, adding there's "no excuse to shoot a man in the head."

Hansen told authorities she originally thought of hiring a hit man to kill MacNeil, but abandoned that idea, according to Bennett.

He said Hansen told police that Gann drove to San Diego and arrived at MacNeil's home about 4 a.m.

She said she left her mother's gun and a house key for her brother, who hid in the home and waited to confront MacNeil.

"She set it in motion and she never did anything to stop it, even though she could have," Bennett told the jury.

After the murder, Hansen lied to police so Gann could get a head start back to Arizona, the prosecutor said.

"The two of them almost pulled it off," Bennett said, "until she slipped and called the killer Nathan."

While Hansen was at Juvenile Hall, authorities found a letter she'd been working on that detailed the planning, deliberation and premeditation that went into the murder, Bennett said.

"It was supposed to be one clean shot to the head, but it didn't work out that way," the letter read, according to Bennett.

Hansen's attorney, Troy Britt, told the jury that Hansen was a typical immature 17-year-old who made a horrible mistake by setting her stepfather's murder in motion but did everything she could to stop Gann from carrying it out.

The morning before MacNeil was killed, Gann pointed the gun at his sister and told her, "This is going to happen whether you want it to or not. Don't try to stop this. You are going to end up like Tim if you try and stop this," Britt said.

The lawyer said his client initially lied to police because she was afraid of losing her brother.

The siblings' mother, Doreen Hansen, committed suicide in 2006.

"She did not want to lose the last family member that she had," her attorney said in his opening statement.

Hansen eventually told a detective that she planned the murder with her brother but tried to stop it from happening.

"She did everything in her power -- short of being shot -- to end this," Britt told the jury.

He said witnesses heard a female screaming after the shots rang out that day.

Hansen and Gann, now 20, are charged with murder and the special circumstance allegation of lying in wait. They face a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

Last year, jurors deadlocked 7-5 -- with the majority voting guilty -- on whether Gann was guilty of murdering MacNeil, a criminal defense attorney.

Bennett told a jury hearing Gann's retrial that the murder weapon -- found outside the back door -- had a mixture of DNA from MacNeil, Hansen and Gann.

A ski mask found discarded along a staircase leading to the street had Gann's DNA on it, the prosecutor said.

One of Gann's friends told investigators that Gann asked him to come to El Centro and drive him to San Diego, then drive him from San Diego back to El Centro, but the friend declined, Bennett told the jury.

A man who was jailed with Gann in Arizona told authorities that Gann told him details of the murder that only the killer would know, the prosecutor said.

Police found a receipt for three items of clothing purchased a day before MacNeil's murder, Bennett said.

The prosecutor said the only two witnesses to the murder were Gann and Hansen, MacNeil's stepchildren.

The story about a masked intruder and a stranger springing a surprise attack on MacNeil and Hansen was untrue, Bennett told the jury.

"They (Gann and Hansen) were the people that killed Timothy MacNeil, for no good reason," Bennett said.

He said Gann fired the shot that killed the victim.

"For no good reason (he was) shot in his own home by his own stepchildren," Bennett told the jury.

But Gann's attorney, Ricardo Garcia, told the jury in his opening statement that the prosecution would not be able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Garcia said Hansen was upset with her stepfather because he had a new girlfriend and was spending most of his time with her.

Hansen confided in friends that she wanted MacNeil dead, the same type of plans she had for her mother before she committed suicide, Garcia told the jury.

The day before MacNeil was killed, Gann was concerned about Hansen because he had received emotional messages from her about her living situation, her attorney said.

"What he (Gann) didn't know about was Brae's plans," Garcia said.

Gann didn't have access to MacNeil's home and hadn't been there in some time, his attorney said.

Neighbors' descriptions of the man who ran from the back of the house following the shooting didn't match Gann, Garcia told the jury.

The murder weapon was set at the top of the stairs in the backyard by a right-handed person, and Gann is left-handed, Garcia said.

No gunshot residue was found on Gann's hands and his fingerprints weren't on the murder weapon, his attorney said.

Garcia said Gann's DNA was not located on the ski mask when it was first tested in January 2008, but turned up when the masked was re-tested three months later.

No evidence was found during a search of Gann's truck, which authorities said Gann drove from Phoenix to San Diego and back, Garcia said.

The attorney warned jurors not to trust the projected testimony of the jailhouse "snitch," saying the man was a convicted drug dealer.

Friends knew Gann as a non-violent, even-tempered young man who never spoke ill about MacNeil, Garcia told the jury.

"He (Gann) had no motive. He had no reason. He had no logical reason to come out and do something like this," Garcia said.

The two juries will hear most of the evidence against the siblings together in a trial that expected to take two to four weeks.

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