By Kelly Wheeler,
City News Service
A Ramona resident accused of fatally shooting a man during a fight after a failed marijuana buy last September must stand trial on charges of murder and possession of marijuana for sale, a judge ruled.
Miles Lockhart, 52, was arrested in February and charged in the death of fellow Ramona resident Shane Tatro.
Sheriff’s Detective Norm Hubbard testified during a daylong preliminary hearing May 7 that Lockhart told him that the 38-year-old Tatro drove up to his home on Walnut Street about 3 p.m. on Sept. 16.
According to the detective, family members told Lockhart that a surveillance camera in the front of the residence was unplugged, and the defendant came outside to see Tatro — whom he thought he recognized as a longtime friend — driving away.
Lockhart said he waived the driver back, and Tatro got out of the car uttering odd things, saying he was there to buy drugs, which he had been doing for years, Hubbard testified.
The detective said the defendant told him that after asking Tatro if he had unplugged the surveillance camera, the victim became angry and was yelling that he was “knockin’ someone out,” saying he didn’t like to be recorded.
One of Lockhart’s sons, Charles, produced a shotgun and told Tatro, “Nobody’s going to get knocked out here,” according to the defendant’s statement.
After Lockhart told the victim he had been a professional fighter and couldn’t be knocked out, another of the defendant’s sons, Christopher, armed himself with a shotgun and Charles displayed a knife and said, “I’m armed, too,” Hubbard said Lockhart told him.
The detective said Lockhart said Tatro sucker-punched him, then Charles fought with the victim.
The defendant said he pulled the victim away when he got Charles in a chokehold, but Tatro continued to throw a volley of punches, which Lockhart said he blocked.
At one point, Lockhart said he heard Christopher say, “I’m going to shoot the son of a bitch,” according to Hubbard.
He said Lockhart told him that he got the shotgun away from Christopher, but Tatro lunged at him and grabbed the middle of the weapon, and they wrestled for control of it.
According to the defendant’s account, he regained control of the shotgun, but Tatro grabbed the trigger area of the gun, Hubbard said.
Fearing the victim would flip the gun and shoot him, Lockhart said he fired and shot Tatro point-blank in the stomach, according to what he told Hubbard. Tatro said, “You killed me” before collapsing, and he died several hours later at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, according to the detective.
Hubbard said Lockhart told him that he didn’t sell marijuana, instead giving it to friends in need who would then leave him donations.
Hubbard said investigators found more than 100 pounds of marijuana and seven firearms at Lockhart’s home.
Judge Lantz Lewis ruled that enough evidence was presented for Lockhart to proceed to trial June 24. A readiness conference was scheduled for June 3.
Lockhart faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted, said Prosecutor John Pro.