Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Robert Joseph Price, 55, Garden Grove, is on trial this week for shooting and killing his neighbor, 53-year-old Glen Berry. Remarkably this act of violence was initiated when Berry was upset at the commotion that Price was making as he was lighting fireworks in his backyard, according to the OCDA.

At the time of the crime, Price is accused of having an ongoing dispute with his neighbor, Berry. That dispute peaked at approximately 1:00 a.m. on June 21, 2013, when Berry walked to the defendant’s home and knocked on the security screen on the defendant’s door, to complain about the noise that Price and his fireworks were making. Price and Berry shared a back fence.

Unfortunately for Berry, Price allegedly opened his front door and shot Berry in the face, with a .44-caliber handgun, through the closed security screen door.

Price was charged with one felony count of murder with sentencing enhancement allegations for the personal discharge of a firearm causing death and the personal use of a firearm. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in state prison.

Opening statements began on Tuesday, Feb.16, 2016, at 9:30 a.m. in Department C-40, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

Orange County Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Herrera started the proceedings by arguing that Price shot an unarmed Berry in the face as “payback” for years of bickering, according to the O.C. Register.

Price’s defense attorney, Doug Myers, presented the obvious defense – that Price was defending himself when Berry showed up at his front door in an “out-of-control” rage.

Apparently the Berry and Price families have been bickering for some 15 years, ever since the Berry family moved into the home right behind the Price family. Herrera said that both of the men shot fireworks and Price had accused Berry of attacking his two dogs by throwing rocks at them over the fence.

Eventually the two families erected a wooden extension on top of the 5-foot wall that bordered their backyards.

Alas the taller fence did not bring peace for long.

Herrera stated that on the night of the shooting Berry lit firecrackers at about 10 p.m. to scare off some birds in a lemon tree in his backyard. That noise apparently woke up Price, who for whatever reason waited until just after 1 in the morning to shoot firecrackers into Berry’s backyard, in retaliation.

Berry was awakened by the noise and he walked over to Price’s home, where Price was in wait with his handgun. The two men yelled at each other through a locked, metal security door before Price shot his gun, right through the door, hitting Berry.

Price then called 911 and he told the police that he had shot his neighbor because he thought that Berry was armed. But the Garden Grove police found that the victim was not armed and he had no guns at his house.

Price’s defense attorney, Myers, then argued that his client thought that Berry was armed because about a year prior, Price’s wife and son on several occasions called the police to report what sounded like gunshots coming from Berry’s yard. The sounds were probably not gunshots, according to Myers, but they rattled the Price family.

Myers then said that he did not think that Berry would light firecrackers late at night to scare off birds  – but that he did so to bother Price. Myers also said that when Berry went over to Price’s home, he banged on the front security door so hard that witnesses across the street heard the banging noise.

Then Myers said that as Price opened the inside door, Berry lurched his arm back and said: “I’m going to kill you!”

That is Myers argument – that Price thought he was in real danger.

If Myers can lead the jury into doubting even a little bit that his client was at fault then Price may walk away from this, while the family next door continues to mourn their fallen father. It is a shame that these two grown men could not be adults about their disagreements.



By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

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