SAN BERNARDINO – Emotions ran high Monday at the trial for two brothers accused of beating to death a 63-year-old man at a Westside convenience store.
A woman in the courtroom gallery reacted with a loud “wow” as prosecutors played for San Bernardino Superior Court jurors a video from a security camera that showed Nathan Macon being punched several times.
Moments later, another woman erupted into tears and was yelling as she left the courtroom. Loud sobs and yelling could be heard in the hallway.
The reaction came while the owner of Jimmy’s Food Store – the trial’s first witness – testified about the March 2010 deadly confrontation with Macon and the defendants, San Bernardino residents Jerome Walker and Milton Walker, then 22 and 21.
The owner had come from the back of the store as he heard noise or screams, he said. One of the two defendants was punching Macon, or “Nate,” in the doorway.
“He used to come to the store often,” the owner said of “Nate.”
The store is at Base Line and Medical Center Drive.
Deputy District Attorney Cary Epstein said in his opening remarks to the jury that Macon is seen on video arriving at the store, going inside and then coming back outside.
“As he’s leaving, he’s holding open the door,” Epstein said.
In the video, Milton Walker walks inside the store and then the door appears to hit Jerome Walker as he enters.
“You need to watch out,” Jerome Walker told Macon, prosecutors said.
“No, you need to watch out,” Macon responded.
An argument ensued, and Milton Walker went back to the door.
Punches were thrown and Macon was pushed outside to the parking lot.
“The two defendants continue to swing and throw blows at him, eventually knocking him to the ground,” said Epstein.
While on the ground, Macon took more punches.
Macon suffered massive head injuries, Epstein said. The video showed the Walkers leaving in a dark-colored car, and Macon lying motionless on the ground.
Paramedics took Macon to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, where he remained in a coma for 12 days before he died. Prosecutors asked that witness names be withheld from this report due to potential threats in the case.
Macon is one of the elders in a well-known Westside family. Some of his relatives have been suspected in a handful of homicides, but police say Macon was a true victim in this case.
But defense lawyers say Macon was the initial aggressor, and Milton Walker’s lawyer, Celia Torres, said Macon had an odor of alcohol, a blood alcohol content of 0.23 or 0.24, and an unsteady gait.
During the confrontation, Torres said Macon threatened Jerome Walker.
“You know who I am?” Macon told Jerome, said Torres. “I’m a Macon. I can hurt you.”
Milton Walker heard the threat and went back to the door, where his brother was, Torres said. As Jerome Walker appeared to walk away, Macon threatened Milton Walker, the defense lawyer said.
“What are you going to do about this?” Macon told Milton Walker, according to Torres. “I’m going to cut you.”
Torres said Macon slammed open the door and appeared to be getting more violent. Macon came back into the store toward Milton, and the fight erupted, she said.
“This is not a situation of two young punks beating up on an old man,” Torres said.
Jerome Walker’s lawyer, Marjorie Barrios, described Macon as “the first aggressor.” Her client heard Macon hurling threats and genuinely believed his brother’s life was in danger, she said.
“He was just sticking up for his brother,” Barrios told jurors. “He was just making sure his brother didn’t get killed, didn’t get cut up by Nathan Macon.”