A reputed gang member who pulled a gun in jest later killed a man for being angry about it, prosecutors told a jury Thursday as his murder trial neared its conclusion.
Davin “Let Loose” Carrera, 32, executed Michael DeWayne Booker, 28, as tensions boiled over, firing a round meant to splinter inside the body for maximum damage, prosecutors said during closing arguments.
Carrera fired into his chest “to allow the family to have an open casket,” Carrera allegedly told a fellow jail inmate, according to prosecutor Shelby Crow, who called it the only measure of mercy in the case.
His attorneys argued Carrera is a patsy, a convenient fall guy in a dispute involving gang-affiliated witnesses who lied to police out of loyalty to the real killer, whom they identified as the prosecution’s chief witness and is now in hiding.
That man was initially arrested in the killing, but prosecutors later dropped charges against him in exchange for his cooperation against Carrera, whom the witness claims is an influential and deadly gang member.
The shooting occurred after 3 a.m. Aug. 16 in the 2100 block of Roundtop Drive in northeast Colorado Springs, and most players, except for Booker, were gang affiliates.
Earlier that night, authorities alleged, Booker and at least two others were in car parked in a garage at a man’s home and snorting cocaine together when Carrera walked up and surprised them with a pistol, feigning a robbery.
When Booker realized he was the target of a grim joke, he lashed out, angering Carrera. The two quarreled back and forth for the rest of the night, leading to a deadly showdown in which authorities say Carrera fired a single round at the unarmed Booker.
The round splintered into at least six fragments that pierced Booker’s heart and kidney along with a network of fatal wounds through his abdomen. The ammunition is legal to purchase and own in Colorado, though not by Carrera, a repeat felon who was barred from possessing weapons. According to court records, his criminal history includes a 2006 conviction for aggravated robbery, for which he was sentenced to eight years, and a 2012 conviction for an attempted escape, which led to a four-year prison sentence.
A chief witness against Carrera is Justin Smith, who lived on the street where the killing occurred and who befriended Booker at a construction job site.
Smith was initially arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder, when police say he refused to answer questions about what happened. Later, he agreed to cooperate and implicated Carrera, whom he feared might target his wife and children.
Smith now lives out of state, authorities said, without disclosing his whereabouts.
Public defender Jared Grabski accused Smith of committing the murder, saying he was angry that Booker had been using methamphetamine in his bathroom while his children were home. Grabski suggested a second witness also lied to protect Smith.
The panel began deliberating shortly before lunch, on the eighth day of trial.
If convicted of the top charge, first-degree murder, Carrera will receive an automatic life sentence to prison without the chance of parole.