Deionta Hayes acted in self-defense when he shot three people, including Henry Clay High School sophomore Chaz Black, who died after the March 2012 shooting, a public defender told a Fayette Circuit court jury Tuesday.
Hayes and his co-defendant and cousin, Dominique Godfrey, both 24, are accused of murder in the death of Black, 16. Hayes and Godfrey also are charged with assault in the shootings of two other people in a Lexington apartment where several people were playing a dice game.
Black died of a single gunshot wound to the chest.
Hayes is accused of pulling the trigger, but Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney David Startsman said in an opening statement that Godfrey acted in complicity with and aided Hayes in the shooting.
Police said in a 2012 preliminary hearing that Godfrey, one of the people at the apartment during the dice game, called Hayes and directed him to the apartment.
But public defender Chris Tracy said Hayes shot Black, Laroz Mitchell and Koree Smith in self-defense.
"Each shot was to a direct threat he saw in front of him," Tracy told the jury in an opening statement. "The evidence will show you this was not murder.... The fact that a life was lost does not mean Deionta's actions were against the law."
Meanwhile, public defender Mike Bufkin said in his opening statement that Godfrey "had no intentions, no desire to harm anybody."
Godfrey "was a witness to what happened but he did nothing to aid or assist" Hayes in the shooting, Bufkin said.
The seven men and seven women on the jury were selected last week, but testimony in the trial did not start until Tuesday. Two jurors will be excused at the conclusion of testimony but before the other 12 begin deliberations.
The trial before Judge Thomas L. Clark is scheduled to go through July 16.
At one time, prosecutors had intended to seek the death penalty against Hayes and Godfrey. But last month a first-degree robbery charge against each man was amended to theft by unlawful taking of a firearm, and with that amendment there was no "aggravating circumstance" to warrant keeping the death penalty as a possibility.
Tuesday's first witness was India Alcorn, Chaz Black's mother, who testified that her son liked history and was a member of the Henry Clay junior varsity football team.
Other initial witnesses on Tuesday were police officers who responded to the scene and neighbors in the Man O' War Crossing apartment complex on Palumbo Drive and Man O' War Boulevard where the shootings occurred.