On a hot August night in 2012, gunfire erupted in a neighborhood north of the Fresno City College campus.
Now, nearly six years later, Tony David Leon, 37, is on trial in Fresno Superior Court charged with the murder of 18-year-old Nicole Jones and the attempted murder of her friend, Noemi Ramirez.
On Tuesday, in opening statements of Leon's trial, prosecutor William Terrence told a jury that the defendant used a sawed-off shotgun with double-aught buckshot to shoot the unarmed victims.
Family and friends of the victims cried in court when Terrence described how Ramirez was shot in the back; a pellet was discovered lodged near her esophagus. Another pellet went through Jones' left eye, Terrence said.
The shooting happened around 7:40 p.m. Aug. 1, 2012, near Glenn and Yale avenues, a neighborhood west of Blackstone Avenue and south of Clinton Avenues.
Jones, a student at Fresno City College, died Aug. 4 .
Leon has been in the Fresno County Jail since the shooting. If convicted, he faces life in prison.
In his opening statement, Terrence said Leon "brought a gun to a fistfight." The prosecutor gave this sequence of events:
Before the shooting, Leon, who was with his girlfriend, got into an physical altercation with Eric Ramirez. After the fight, Ramirez told his family and friends, which included Jones. A short time later, Jones and two of her friends took a stroll in the neighborhood.
During the walk, they came across Leon and his girlfriend. Words were exchanged and Leon's girlfriend and one of the Jones' friends got into a fistfight. During the altercation, Terrence said, Leon punched Jones' friend who was fighting with his girlfriend.
At 7:38 p.m., a neighbor called 911 to report the altercation. After neighbors broke up the fight, according to Terrence, Leon said: "I'm going to go and get my gun." A short time later he returned with a sawed-off shotgun.
Leon fired toward Eric Ramirez, but missed. Buckshot pellets hit Jones and Noemi Ramirez, Terrence said.
Leon left the scene. With help from his friend, Joshua Woodworth, the shotgun was hidden in a nearby backyard by a shed, Terrence said. Police later found Leon and Woodworth walking in the area and detained them.
Terrence said a police detective found a spent shotgun shell in a trash can. A neighbor who saw Leon and Woodworth together in the neighborhood found the shotgun in her backyard and turned it over to police, Terrence told the jury. Ballistic testing later revealed the spent shotgun shell found in the trash matched the sawed-off shotgun, Terrence said.
In addition, police searched a home where Leon got the shotgun, Terrence said. In the attic of a bedroom, police found a backpack with shotgun shells, including some that could be used in the sawed-off shotgun, he said.
Fresno attorney Charles Magill, who is defending Leon, reserved his opening statement to a later date .
Court records say Leon was convicted in 2005 of a felony charge of participating in a criminal street gang. He also was convicted of burglary in 2002. Woodward, who was 25 when Jones was shot, was charged with being an accessory after the killing. In August 2012, Woodward was sentenced to three years in prison, court records say.