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Criminal Justice Reform Advocate Says He Didn't Intend To Kill

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- A criminal justice reform advocate admitted Wednesday that he pointed a gun only inches away from the head of his sister's boyfriend during an argument at her home in East Oakland in October 2016 but claimed that he didn't pull the trigger and didn't kill the man on purpose.

DeAngelo Cortijo said he pointed his 9 mm revolver at the head of 26-year-old Jamad Jerkins outside his sister's apartment at 2558 35th Ave. at about 10 p.m. on Oct. 24, 2016, because Jerkins didn't obey his commands to leave.

Cortijo, who is charged with murder for Jerkins' death, testified that he was "scared" of Jerkins because Jerkins' "words were aggressive."

When prosecutor Alex Hernandez asked Cortijo what Jerkins had said that made him so frightened, Cortijo said Jerkins said, "Man, I'm not going anywhere."

Cortijo said, "I did not shoot James" and claimed that the gun went off when Jerkins pushed it away from his head.

"I did not pull that trigger," Cortijo said.

Jerkins was struck in the stomach by a single bullet and was transported to Highland Hospital in Oakland to be treated for his wounds but was pronounced dead there the next day.

Jerkins was dating Cortijo's sister, Patricia Cortijo, and living with her at the apartment but had decided to leave and move back in with another woman who was the mother of his children, Oakland police said in court papers.

Jerkins was attempting to collect his belongings at the apartment but DeAngelo confronted him, an argument ensued and DeAngelo pulled out a silver revolver and shot Jerkins in the stomach, police said.

Cortijo's lawyer, Alphonso Mance said in his opening statement in the trial last week that Cortijo was afraid of Jerkins because Jerkins was a much bigger man and was acting in an aggressive manner.

In addition to murder, Cortijo also is charged with kidnapping for allegedly forcing another man to drive him away from the shooting scene at gunpoint.

Oakland police said when Cortijo fled he approached a man who happened to be sitting in his car outside the apartment, brandished his revolver, forced himself into the man's car and threatened to shoot the man if he didn't drive him to 2218 24th Ave. in Oakland.

The man told police that he tried to refuse to drive Cortijo but was afraid of being shot so he drove to 24th Avenue against his will.

Cortijo was arrested in the 2200 block of 24th Avenue on the day after the fatal shooting.

Cortijo was an intern at the National Center for Youth Law in Oakland and used his personal experiences in juvenile detention and foster care to influence foster care and juvenile justice reform bills.

Cortijo's trial has been chaotic, with Alameda County Superior Court Judge Rhonda Burgess keeping jurors waiting for long periods of time while she hears legal arguments between Hernandez and Mance about what
evidence can be presented and then rules on what jurors can see and hear.

Cortijo will continue his testimony when his trial resumes on Thursday.

© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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