Thursday, December 7th 2023, 5:14 pm
A Tulsa man takes the stand in his murder trial where he's charged with shooting and killing a woman in a fit of road rage.
22-year-old Julian Zavaleta is accused of following Shantel Jones into the AutoZone parking lot near 51st and Peoria, then shooting her and speeding away.
Zavaleta testified he shot Shantel Jones in self-defense because she threatened him, and he thought she was reaching for a gun in her pocket. Zavaleta says he feared for his life.
Zavaleta says Jones cut him off in traffic and side-swiped his car, so he says he followed Jones into the parking lot to check the damage and exchange insurance information. He says he was trying to keep the situation calm, so he stayed in his car. He says the victim got out of the car and came at him aggressively and made a death threat. Zavaleta says he saw the victim reach into her pocket, and he assumed it was a gun, so he shot her. Zavaleta says he feared for his life and sped away after the shooting because he was still scared.
Three eyewitnesses testified earlier in the week and said the victim, Shantel Jones, didn't charge at Zavaleta and didn't appear to be a threat at all. All three say they didn't see her reach for anything. One eyewitness says she's 100% positive she saw Zavaleta pull into the lot, closely following the victim and holding a gun up in the air. Zavaleta testified that he was holding his phone, not his gun. Investigators say the victim didn’t have a gun.
Shantel's sister says Shantel is from New York but had been living in Tulsa for a while. She says Shantel was getting ready to move to Atlanta to be closer to her other sisters. They say Shantel was the youngest of six sisters and they all feel like a part of them is missing now.
Prosecutors and Zavaleta's attorney will be giving their closing arguments Friday morning then it will go to the jury.
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