CHULA VISTA (CNS) - A young woman was defending herself when she fatally stabbed another young woman during a fight in National City last year, a defense attorney said Monday.
"She lashes out wildly," defense attorney Daniel Mangarin said in describing the actions of his 19-year-old client, Antoinette Dokes.
In his opening statement, Mangarin said Dokes and Rachael Wheelis, now 21, had gone to Justine Brown's apartment on April 17, 2009, to straighten out a misunderstanding regarding Brown's ex-boyfriend.
Vincent Thomas and the 18-year-old Brown began dating in January 2009, and Brown had Thomas, a Marine, put her name on his military bank account, car and other things, even though he had moved to Mississippi, Mangarin said.
In April, Thomas had told friends, including Dokes and Wheelis, that he had broken up with Brown, Mangarin said.
On April 12, 2009, Brown became upset when Wheelis and a Marine dropped off Thomas' car, according to Mangarin.
Over the next five days, Brown drove by Thomas' apartment and committed acts of vandalism, Mangarin told the jury.
On April 16, 2009, Dokes, her Marine boyfriend, Thomas and Wheelis verbally agreed to get an apartment together in El Cajon, Mangarin said.
The next day, Brown confronted Wheelis and Dokes at a National City credit union and blocked their car so they couldn't back out of a parking space, according to Mangarin.
The attorney said Brown tried to get Wheelis out of the driver's seat.
"She (Brown) said, `Get out, (expletive), what are you doing in my car?"' Mangarin told the jury.
Mangarin said Brown even left a message threatening the young women on Thomas' voice mail.
"She said, `I'm going to beat a (expletive's) ass,"' Mangarin told the jury. "That's exactly what she proceeded to do."
Mangarin said Brown also left a message for Thomas saying, "I'm going to (expletive) up your life up if you don't call me."
Mangarin said Wheelis drove Dokes to Brown's apartment so Dokes could explain to Brown what was going on.
The woman had a homeless man knock on Brown's door, and Dokes hid a pocket knife in some bushes in case things got out of hand, Mangarin said.
Brown -- who outweighed Dokes by 70 pounds -- got her on her back during the hair-pulling, all-out fight and Dokes grabbed the knife and slashed Brown three times, in the leg, chest and shoulder, Mangarin said.
Brown was pronounced dead at UCSD Medical Center.
"She (Dokes) ran into an explosion," Mangarin said. "Justine Brown didn't want to talk to anybody."
Dokes didn't know at the time that Brown had beaten a girl up a few years earlier and set fire to a seventh-grader's hair on a school bus, Mangarin told the jury.
"Is this a murder or is this something less?" the defense attorney asked. "What could she (Dokes) have done, other than defend herself."
Deputy District Attorney Gregg McClain told the jury that Dokes should be convicted of first-degree murder and Wheelis of second-degree murder.
Dokes faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted of murder and the use of a knife.
Wheelis would face 15 years to life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.
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