Man’s shooting death
was an accident,
defendant says

Moses Thompson is charged in
the 2002 killing of Eugene Rios

A former Kalihi man accused of shooting a Waipahu man to death during a traffic incident in December contends in his Circuit Court trial that the gun accidentally went off during a struggle.

Moses L. Thompson, 24, also known as Marcus Thompson, went on trial yesterday. He is charged with second-degree murder and two firearms offenses for allegedly shooting Eugene Rios, 31, on Dec. 15 in what is believed to be a case of mistaken identity.

Rios was one of two men in a car who got out and approached a car carrying Thompson at a stoplight on Kamehameha Highway and Lumiaina Street in Waikele to confront them about a truck break-in.

Deputy Prosecutor Russell Uehara said there was no dispute Rios was the aggressor when he confronted the driver, Virgil Shinnery, asking him if he remembered the white pickup truck belonging to Rios' brother-in-law that was broken into a few months earlier.

But Thompson, sitting in the front passenger seat, displayed a gun, prompting Rios to grab it through the driver's window, Uehara said.

Uehara said Rios was shot in the neck when his grip on the gun slipped and he stepped back. A passenger sitting behind Thompson is expected to testify he saw Thompson lean over Shinnery and shoot.

Witnesses in other cars at the intersection say the gunman leaned out the window and shot toward Rios a second time after he collapsed near the car's rear bumper.

Shinnery, Thompson's best friend, told police later that Thompson told him he had aimed for Rios' heart, Uehara said. "He aimed for his heart to kill him," Shinnery told police.

Walter Rodby, Thompson's public defender, said Rios was shot while he and Thompson struggled over the gun in the car and that the shooting was neither premeditated nor planned.

Thompson displayed the gun only to scare Rios, who witnesses saw holding a box cutter when he approached Shinnery's car, Rodby said.

There was only one spent shell casing found, and it was recovered between the driver's seat and middle console, indicating the shot was fired in the car, Rodby said.


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