After a burst of violence left two men dead and two others wounded in eastern Colorado Springs last year, a teenage girl clutched an injured man in her arms and showed police a cell phone picture of the person she said pulled the trigger.
"Absolutely it is the defendant who is with us today," prosecutor Reggie Short told a jury Tuesday during opening statements at a murder trial, identifying Alonzo "BabyWiz" Paige as the man whose image was captured on the phone.
Paige, 22, faces multiple life sentences if convicted in the Jan. 24, 2012, shooting outside the Timberlane Apartments, 3985 E. Bijou St. Prosecutors described how a night of "confusion, chaos and carnage" resulted in the deaths of Marquise Bean, 20, and Andrew Encalade, 21. Wounded were Jareem Vanterpool and Encalade's brother, Adam, who is now paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair as a result of his injuries, prosecutors say.
Authorities say Paige and the victims were drinking together at a friend's apartment when Paige was confronted by Vanterpool over unwelcome flirting.
When a war of words spilled outside and revelers began heading for the parking lot, authorities say, Paige pulled a semiautomatic pistol and opened fire.
Defense attorneys did not dispute that Paige was the shooter but said he fired in self-defense - convinced that he and a friend were about to be attacked by the victims, whom they identified as rivals from another gang sect.
Attorney Will Drexler told jurors the shooting had less to do with Paige's flirting than with aggressive behavior by Vanterpool, whom he blamed for driving the violence.
According to Drexler, Vanterpool showed up at the party "itching" for a fight with Paige, who Drexler said had tangled with his brother outside a Colorado Springs nightclub earlier in the week. When the party was over, Vanterpool and his friends went outside and "ambushed" one of Paige's friends, who was knocked unconscious by a punch, Drexler said.
"His (Paige's) option was to defend himself and his friend by shooting those attacking him," Drexler said.
Prosecutors say witnesses at the scene identified Paige as the only shooter. Drexler said Paige's friend will testify that Paige "saved his life."
The trial before 4th Judicial District Judge Barney Iuppa is expected to last up to three weeks.