Closing arguments in trial of high school wrestling coach charge - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Closing arguments in trial of high school wrestling coach charged with murder

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A Madison High School wrestling coach fatally shot a one-time assistant to get back at the victim for beating him up and should be convicted of first-degree murder, a prosecutor said Wednesday, but a defense attorney argued that the shooting was justifiable self-defense.

Jeret Thomas Needham, 43, faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted of murder and the personal use of a firearm in the death of 45-year-old Robert Colegrove.

In his closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Michael MacNeil said Needham went home to get his 9mm gun last Sept. 24 after Colegrove "beat him to a pulp" in the victim's room, a converted garage behind a home in Bay Park.

"The defendant was humiliated" and repeatedly said "shouldn't have done that" before leaving, the prosecutor said.

An hour after Needham and Colegrove fought, Needham returned and fired one shot through a back fence, killing Colegrove, the prosecutor told the jury.

Needham testified that he shot Colegrove when the victim said "I'm going to kill you" and pulled a knife from a sheath, but no knife was found near the gate, MacNeil said.

A small knife was located under Colegrove's body when he was rolled over, the prosecutor said.

"It didn't happen the way the defendant said it did," the prosecutor told the jury. "There was no knife in Mr. Colegrove's hand."

Needham admitted to police that he messed up when he shot Colegrove, the prosecutor said. "He (the defendant) knew he had just committed murder."

MacNeil played a taped interview that Needham did with police after his arrest, in which he told detectives, "When you do something like that, you're going to have to answer for it."

Getting beat up and possibly suffering a concussion is not a defense to murder, the prosecutor told the jury.

Defense attorney Kerry Armstrong told the pane that Needham became scared when Colegrove -- who he knew was an ex-Navy SEAL -- rattled the chain on the back gate, threatened to kill him and pulled a knife.

Armstrong said Colegrove was a violent person who had a high level of methamphetamine in his system when he was killed.

The defense attorney said Colegrove fought with officers who searched his home two years earlier.

Armstrong said the prosecution failed to prove that Needham was guilty of murder or voluntary manslaughter.

"He (Needham) had every right to do what he did," Armstrong said. "What he did was not unreasonable."

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