Joe L. Medina, 33, accused of fatally shooting one man and wounding another, was found guilty of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder this week in Pima County Superior Court.
Vincent Frey, Medina's attorney, contended Medina was in fear for his life and acted in self-defense when he fatally shot 34-year-old Michael Grijalva and wounded Julio Colon at a midtown apartment complex in November 2011.
Medina was indicted on first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder charges.
Frey told jurors that Medina was hanging out with a friend at her apartment near South Columbus Boulevard and East 29th Street when Grijalva and Colon showed up.
Tension started to develop when the men started discussing what gangs they were, or had been, part of, Frey said.
Later the woman, Grijalva and Colon went downstairs. She and Grijalva, who were in an on-again, off-again relationship, appeared to be reconciling, Frey said.
Medina, who had a gun in his pocket, began to feel apprehensive, thinking the other two had seen it, Frey said. He said Medina asked the men if they knew anybody who wanted to buy a gun, and showed his to Grijalva when he was asked if he was carrying one.
It was "his way to let them know he was not there to start drama," Frey said.
Tensions escalated further, Frey said, when the men then asked Medina what units he had been in in prison. When Medina answered, Grijalva asserted that was "where they house the S.O.'s" - prison slang for sex offenders.
Medina had served time in California and Arizona for evading a police officer and check fraud, was not a sex offender and took the comment to be a threat of physical harm, Frey said.
"He knows when they start talking 'you're an S.O.' what they've got in mind," Frey said.
Grijalva charged at Medina, who pulled out his gun and fired at him. When Medina saw Colon run to an SUV parked nearby and reach for something, he fired at him too, thinking the man was reaching for a gun, Frey said.
Medina shot the men to prevent them from beating him up and getting a gun and using it on him, Frey said.
Prosecutor Alicia Robertson told jurors during the trial that Medina shot the men because he felt "disrespected" by them and thought Grijalva was being disrespectful toward a female friend.
"Essentially, ladies and gentlemen, it's three grown men calling each other names," she said.
Medina also was found guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited possessor.
He will be sentenced by Judge Howard Hantman on May 28.
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Contact reporter Veronica Cruz at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4224.