Jury Deliberates in Highway Shooting Trial

Jurors were told Stephen Dragasits is either a "sniper" or a victim of circumstance

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    TK
    Dragasits sits and listens to testimony in his preliminary hearing on July 11.

    Jurors must decide if a San Diego man acted as a sniper, aiming at innocent motorists on a local highway or was the victim of circumstance.

    Stephen Dragasits “set himself up like a sniper” alongside a San Diego freeway striking two vehicles and seriously injuring one driver according to prosecutor Chandelle Konstanzer.

    "He was aiming, and he intended to kill the occupants," Konstanzer told jurors Monday.

    Dragasits faces six counts including attempted murder, shooting at an occupied vehicle and assault with a firearm in connection with a series of shootings that occurred April 5, 2011 along a section of State Route 163.

    It was a shooting that terrified thousands of drivers along the 163 as they wondered who might be responsible for randomly shooting at cars.

    Suspect Arrested in SR-163 Shootings

    [DGO] Suspect Arrested in SR-163 Shootings
    An arrest has been made in the highway shootings that injured one driver and damaged a second car in San Diego, according to officials.

    During the trial, jurors saw video from a dashboard camera showing Dragasit's RV was parked on Kearny Mesa Road that day, by the side of the freeway, close to where 12 bullet casings were found.

    The casings found near the RV had Dragasits' DNA on them according to prosecutors. Other casings that were later found inside the RV were identical to those found near the RV officials said.

    However, in closing arguments, defense attorney Euketa Oliver told jurors there was no testimony putting her client at the location at the time of the shootings. No one testified that they even saw someone with a rifle.

    There is no direct evidence that he was even anywhere near the scene, much less that he fired those shots, Oliver told the jury.

    The defense insists there were two other suspects in this case that were not given enough scrutiny.

    "There is no (direct) evidence linking Mr. Dragasits to the shooting," Oliver said.

    Prosecutors presented evidence that Dragasits’ cell phone records placed him in Kearny Mesa. Witnesses also testified they saw his RV there.

    Oliver however said the video and photos do not clearly show that it’s Dragasits’ RV reminding jurors the RV is a common model.

    A University of San Diego graduate student was hospitalized as a result of the shootings. Ashley Simmons, 21, was driving to class when she realized she was having trouble breathing. She didn't know that a bullet had entered her car, traveled through her driver's seat and into her rib cage.

    "It kind of startled me so I screamed really loud and right after I screamed I felt a pain in my side and the pain went away almost instantly, but immediately after that I had trouble breathing," she told NBCSanDiego after the shooting.

    Driver Jeffrey Lloyd-Jones told NBCSanDiego that he didn't realize he had been shot at until he was filling up at a gas station.

    "I had to clean my windows and when I was cleaning my windows, that's when I noticed a hole," he said.

    At the time of his arrest, Dragasits' DNA was already on file at the crime lab from an earlier misdemeanor arrest for throwing rocks at vehicles in that same area near the 163.