A 2nd District Court jury Thursday convicted an Ogden man of second-degree murder for the June shooting death of another Ogden man in a 25th Street bar.
The eight-member jury deliberated about two hours before finding Joe Angels Morales, 31, guilty of the first-degree felony charge. Morales had no reaction when the verdict was read.Judge David Roth set sentencing for Aug. 22. Morales could be sentenced to serve up to life in prison.
Defense attorney Martin Gravis tried to convince the jury during closing arguments that Morales shot and killed Raul Steve Murillo in self-defense in Ponchos Bar on June 7. Murillo was shot once in the back and twice in the torso.
Testimony revealed during the three-day trial that the two men had been feuding for weeks before Morales shot Murillo, 47. Gravis said Morales was frightened of Murillo and he shot him because the victim also had a gun.
No gun was found at the scene and Morales testified that Murillo's girlfriend picked up the victim's gun after he was shot and then she hid it in her purse.
Morales said he was scared so he ran from the bar. He was apprehended a couple of hours later near the Ogden railroad yards.
Gravis said his client was afraid of Murillo because evidence revealed that the victim twice went looking for the defendant with a gun. The attorney also said that police found a knife on the victim after he died.
"We've had two police reports that Steve Murillo is after Joe with a gun," Gravis said. "Whenever there was trouble, it was always Steve looking for Joe."
Gravis told jury members that if they had a difficult time acquitting Morales, then they should convict him of the lesser offense of manslaughter, a second-degree felony.
But Assistant Weber County Attorney Bill Daines said Morales deliberately shot Murillo, and the victim was not holding a gun when he was shot.
"It's not self-defense if you have the knife in your pocket," Daines said. "When he (Morales) ran, he knew he was committing a murder, not an act of self-defense."