Local News

Friday, Sep 21 2012 06:20 PM

Closing arguments begin in trial of three accused in death of 81-year-old woman

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Angelique Nash, along with two others, is accused of murdering Dorothy Session.

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Katila Nash, one of three people accused of murdering Dorothy Session.

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    David Deshawn Moses, along with two others, is accused of murder in the death Dorothy Session during a burglary.

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    After standing while the jury entered Kern County Superior Court, David Deshawn Moses, Angelique Nash, center, and Katila Nash, return to their seats as the prosecution presented closing arguments in the murder case against the three teens who are accused of murder in the death of Dorothy Session during a burglary.

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    David Deshawn Moses glances back toward a projection screen used by the prosecution during closing arguments in the murder case against, Moses, Angelique Nash, center, and Katila Nash. The three teens are accused of murder in the death of Dorothy Session during a burglary.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

There was no reason Dorothy Session had to die on April 14, 2010.

"She died because these defendants -- Katila Nash, Angelique Nash and David Moses -- made a decision to go out and steal," prosecutor David Wilson told the jury during his closing argument Friday in Kern County Superior Court.

The Nash sisters and Moses are accused of entering Session's home with the intent to steal, and prosecutors say Moses beat Session upon encountering her in what he thought was an empty home. Each of the defendants is charged with first-degree murder with the special allegation that the killing occurred during a burglary. If convicted, the three face life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Wilson and Deputy Public Defender Jano Mattaeo, representing Moses, gave their closing arguments Friday. The two other defense attorneys will give their arguments Monday.

While Wilson argued the defendants' actions merited first-degree murder convictions, Mattaeo said Moses never intended to kill Session or burglarize her home in the 1500 block of Camino Sierra in east Bakersfield.

"The issue is did David have the intent to commit any of what Mr. Wilson is asking you to return a verdict on?" Mattaeo said.

He said it would be an insult to the jurors' intelligence to ask them to return a not guilty verdict on Moses' behalf because his client does bear some culpability for Session's death. Mattaeo said he believes this is a case of voluntary manslaughter.

Both sides

As Wilson went over the particulars of what happened during the day of Session's death, he displayed photos of the blood-spattered crime scene and a photograph of a badly beaten Session that drew tears from members of Session's family in the courtroom. Wilson said Moses admitted to detectives that he struck Session twice, the first time while she was standing and then a second time after she fell to the floor.

Session died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, Wilson said. She suffered numerous other injuries, however, including bleeding on the brain, a fractured nose, an eye completely swollen shut, and a lip that was completely split through.

Cradled by her grandson -- who went to the home with his girlfriend after another relative was unable to reach Session by phone -- Session vomited blood and said she was in a lot of pain. And she managed to describe the suspects, telling her grandson a black male and black female had come to her home, Wilson said.

Session also repeatedly asked about her purse. The only reason she would do that, Wilson said, is because the people she described had wanted money.

"She's in pain, she's been lying there for two hours, but she says 'go check my purse,'" Wilson said.

What led detectives to the defendants? Relatives and friends of the suspects contacted detectives after the defendants talked to them about what happened.

Wilson said the relatives possessed information that only someone who had been present at the crime scene could have known. Their statements were recorded.

Those people changed their story on the witness stand, and Wilson said it's clear they lied during the trial because they're trying to protect the defendants.

Of the recent denial of one of those relatives regarding speaking to the defendants about the crime, Wilson told the jury, "Either (she) has a gift I don't understand, or she talked to these defendants."

Angelique Nash has told detectives she wanted to smoke marijuana the day of the killing, Wilson said, and Katila Nash said she wanted to "get cash for weed."

The defendants' ploy was simple, Wilson said. They knocked on a door, and if someone answered they asked if "Matthew" was at home. When the person who answered replied "no," they simply walked to the next house.

They did this until they came upon Session's home, Wilson said. No one answered the front door, so Moses went around to the back.

That's when he encountered Session. Both Moses and Katila Nash entered the home, Wilson said. Angelique Nash was in the driveway as a lookout, he said..

But Mattaeo argued there was never any intention to burglarize Session's home. He said Moses just wanted to use her phone.

And while Moses did strike Session, he did it impulsively and never meant to kill her, Mattaeo said. Moses suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, impulsivity and emotional disorder, according to the attorney.

"But he's not a cold-blooded killer who murdered with malice aforethought," Mattaeo said.

Mattaeo tried to cast doubt as to the reliability of the grandson's testimony that Session told him the suspects wanted money. He said the grandson only made that assertion two years later after meeting with Wilson in preparation of his testimony.

The Nashes were arrested three days after the killing near a motel on Chester Lane, deputies have said. The morning after that, a family pastor brought Moses to Kern County Juvenile Hall where he turned himself in.

Moses told detectives he struck Session and that he believed she was still alive when he left, Wilson said. Moses went to her home because he needed money for food, and he repeatedly asked detectives if he could get life in prison, the prosecutor said.

Wilson told the jury that Moses also admitted to detectives to burning his shoes after leaving Session's home. That shows consciousness of guilt in that Moses was trying to hide evidence, Wilson said.

Defense attorney Fred Gagliardini is representing Angelique Nash, and Richard Rivera is representing Katila Nash. Gagliardini will begin his closing argument Monday morning.

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