SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A wanted man drove off and dragged a deputy U.S. marshal along a Clairemont Mesa street after the officer stopped the car and tried to take the keys from the ignition, a prosecutor said Thursday, but a defense attorney told a jury that his client feared for his life when the marshal pointed a gun at him and threatened to kill him.
Matthew Motsenbocker, 31, is charged with assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily injury and other counts.
In his opening statement of trial, Deputy District Attorney Robert Eacret asked jurors to hold Motsenbocker accountable for his "getaway at all costs" mentality.
Eacret said U.S. marshals were looking for Motsenbocker on July 6, 2012, after he failed to appear in court for allegedly stealing shirts from a department store and trying to pass a phony check.
Marshals pulled over a white Volvo driven by the defendant's girlfriend as she exited Interstate 805 at Balboa Avenue.
Eacret said the woman exited the vehicle with the car still running, but when Deputy U.S. Marshal Don Allie reached in to take the keys out of the ignition, Motsenbocker slid over from the passenger seat and hit the accelerator.
With his body half in the vehicle as he was being dragged, Allie "in fear for his life" fired his weapon, hitting the defendant in the chest, Eacret said.
"He (Allie) was thinking, 'I need to shoot, and I need to make it good,' " the prosecutor told the jury.
Allie was thrown from the Volvo and suffered traumatic head injuries and road rash to the face, Eacret said.
Investigators estimated Allie was dragged about 100 yards.
The prosecutor said Allie's memory is somewhat "blurry" as to what happened that day.
Motsenbocker's attorney, Raymundo Pacello Jr., told the jury that Allie never identified himself as a peace officer and stuck a gun under the defendant's armpit.
"Matthew Motsenbocker was in fear for his life," Pacello told the jury. "He (Allie) said, 'I'm going to kill you, (expletive). Matt thought he was going to die."'
When confronted, Motsenbocker pushed the accelerator in an attempt to get out of the situation, his attorney said.
Pacello said Motsenbocker would admit what he did -- stealing from Kohl's and trying to pass an altered check -- but not the assault causing great bodily injury.
The defendant, who has a burglary "strike" conviction from 2004, faces up to 24 years in prison if convicted.
Besides assault, Motsenbocker is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, auto theft, and an allegation that he committed the crimes while he was out on bail on other charges.
The day of the traffic stop, authorities were looking for Motsenbocker after he failed to appear in court on charges of burglary, being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, passing forged items, using an access card to defraud and receiving stolen property, Eacret said.
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