Jury selection nears in trial of 2014 slaying of EMT
Jury selection is scheduled to begin Thursday in the trial of a 21-year-old man alleged to have fatally shot an off-duty emergency medical technician in the early hours of December 7, 2014 outside a Mission District nightclub.
Taaron Bragg is accused of the murder of 26-year-old Camilo Senchyna-Beltran, who was working towards becoming a San Francisco firefighter when he sustained one gunshot wound to the chest and later died of his injuries at San Francisco General Hospital.
Bragg’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Niki Solis, and Assistant District Attorney Patrick Mahoney went head-to-head Tuesday on the admissibility of evidence, the ground rules for the upcoming trial, and the defense’s tardiness in turning over certain discovery evidence, including newly-acquired security video of the shooting. The video was obtained from Bruno’s, the nightclub at 20th and Mission streets outside which the incident occurred.
Also at issue Tuesday was the admissibility of video evidence of a taxicab robbery Bragg is alleged to have been involved with less than 24 hours after the shooting. The defense strenuously objected to the video being admitted, but because Bragg had previously claimed he was punched in the altercation that preceded the shooting, Mahoney argued to have the evidence admitted as a way to demonstrate Bragg’s face was not injured.
Judge Geraldo Sandoval, presiding in the case, ultimately sided with Mahoney and ruled it into evidence.
The defense is arguing that Bragg acted in self-defense out of a “reasonableness of fear” as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosed after a previous incident of gun violence he experienced.
On September 29, 2013, 21-year-old Armoun Page entered an Antioch home after a disagreement over a missing gold dental grill and fired a gun at Bragg and his older brother Khalid. Khalid shielded Bragg with his body and moved a two-year-old child to safety, but died as a result of the shooting. Taaron Bragg was seriously wounded in the shooting, and appeared in court Tuesday with a colostomy bag.
Bragg’s family felt Page’s sentencing was inadequate. Bragg’s grandfather, James Bragg, told Patch:
“I wish [Page] would’ve gotten the death sentence. … Not by a jury, but on the street, like he did to [my grandson.]”
Page in 2015 took a plea deal in the case and was sentenced to 27 years and four months for involuntary manslaughter with a firearm enhancement, attempted murder with another gun enhancement, and being a felon with a firearm.
Solis sought to enter medical records from 2013 and 2014 into evidence for Bragg’s upcoming trial Tuesday, along with testimony from doctors who have treated him for PTSD, to build a foundation for what she argues are mitigating circumstances surrounding his alleged involvement in the shooting death of Senchyna-Beltran.
Sandoval scheduled a final hearing Wednesday to tie up remaining pre-trial loose ends, to be followed by the start of jury selection Thursday.