After a hitch getting the jury seated, a deputy prosecutor told the panel today why they should convict a 19-year-old Spokane man of attempted first-degree murder after he shot a man several times in a parking lot on Sunset Hill.
Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy told the jury in his opening statement about the circumstances that led up to the shooting and how Anthony R. Covert kept pulling the trigger of the semi-automatic .40-caliber handgun until it was empty.
The incident began as a phone conversation by a woman trying to find a friend that turned into an altercation between two groups of young men who apparently didn’t even know each other. Twice the groups agreed to meet to fight, and during the second meeting on Nov. 7, 2008, Covert pulled a gun, Nagy said.
“Mr. (Shane L.) Hagedorn removes his jacket and prepares to fight it out. Mr. Covert again pulls out the loaded (gun). This time the safety is off and he started shooting,” Nagy said. “His initial shots hit Mr. Hagedorn and he keeps shooting. The bullets are hitting all around him on the ground. Mr. Hagedorn gets up. Mr. Covert keeps shooting.”
Hagedorn was hit by bullets before fleeing to the West Wynn Motel, 2701 W. Sunset Highway, where he was staying, Nagy said.
Police and paramedics found Hagedorn with his friend Joseph Castagna and the young woman in the motel room. Hagedorn suffered several gunshot wounds and was having trouble breathing. He later recovered following surgery.
Officers brought a police dog to the scene and immediately tracked a scent to the bridge from which Covert emerged. Under the Sunset Bridge, they found a coat, belt and a .40-caliber handgun.
Covert told police that he was the victim and claimed the shooter was a stocky Mexican man. Officers detained him for further questioning, and other witnesses told similar versions of events, Nagy said.
The altercation began with a phone call between the young woman and Ricky E. Grubbs, who lived in Browne’s Addition. Covert was Grubbs’ roommate. Somehow the conversation turned ugly, and Hagedorn came to the defense of the young woman and agreed to meet Grubbs to fight.
Hagedorn and Castagna first went to a grocery store parking lot where they encountered Grubbs, Covert and two other young men. At that time, Covert told police that he pointed his gun at Hagedorn’s car and pulled the trigger, but he forgot to disengage the safety mechanism.
The groups again agreed to meet to fight near the West Wynn Motel and that is when the shooting took place, Nagy said.
Covert has pleaded not guilty to the seven counts against him, and his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Al Rossi, waived his opening statement.
The case almost didn’t happen Wednesday after attorneys learned that one juror had expressed opinions about the case in the presence of at least one other juror. After questioning each of the 12 jurors and three alternates, Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen disqualified the juror who talked about the case and another juror who said she heard that conversation.
“It is a shame,” Eitzen said. “We only have one alternate now. We are all going to hope that things go smoothly.”