Prosecutors challenge man's self-defense claim
MANCHESTER - Tony Hebert, 28, whose second-degree murder trial is now scheduled for August, flashed a big smile and put his hand over his heart upon seeing supporters in the gallery Friday morning in Hillsborough County Superior Court North.
Hebert was there for a hearing at which prosecutors challenged the defense notices of intent to plead self-defense in the July 17, 2011, shooting of Pablo Samniego.
Hebert's scheduled September 2012 trial for the shooting death of 21-year-old Samniego had to be rescheduled when his private attorney quit last August for lack of payment.
Hebert, formerly of 692 Rimmon St., was originally represented by public defenders, but objected to several of the appointed attorneys. His family hired a private attorney, who withdrew after telling Judge David Garfunkel that he had not been paid. His new attorneys are public defenders Eric Raymond and Dorothy Graham.
Jury selection for Hebert's second-degree murder trial is now set for Aug. 5.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Strelzin and Assistant Attorney General Diana Fenton were in court Friday to challenge Hebert's four alternative theory notices of intent to claim self defense.
Police have said Samniego was walking with a friend that Saturday morning, just before 3 a.m., when a car pulled up next to them in the area of Ferry and South Main streets and, after a brief conversation, the man in the car shot Samniego in the face.
Samniego's companion ran across South Main Street to call 911 from the 7-11 store, but Samniego was dead when police arrived.
The November 2011 Hillsborough County North Grand Jury indicted Hebert on two charges of second-degree murder. One of the charges accuses Hebert of recklessly causing Samniego's death, the other alleges he knowingly caused Samniego's death by shooting him in the face.
Fenton said the defense notices of self defense aren't sufficiently specific, that they do not articulate what actions the victim took to provoke the defendant to shoot. If the intent notices aren't amended with specifics, they should be stricken or eliminated, say prosecutors.
Raymond, who was appointed with Graham to defend Hebert, insisted: "We have set forth sufficient grounds."
Raymond said information gathered from witnesses and police statements supports the defense contention of self-defense, that Hebert felt threatened by Samniego's aggressive behavior.
But Fenton countered that no witness says the victim had a weapon. She said the defense notice is "factually insufficient."
The 2011 shooting occurred before passage of the stand-your-ground law, which permits use of deadly force anywhere a person feels threatened, without the need to retreat.