A second trial began Tuesday morning in Belleville for a St. Louis man convicted of killing another man over spilled beer and a racial slur at a Sauget convenience store.
Lamarc R. Garrett, 35, was granted a retrial in September after jurors were shown a piece of evidence they weren’t supposed to see in the August trial. The jury in that trial found Garrett guilty of first-degree murder in the September 2015 killing of Oscar C. Carbajal, of St. Louis.
Police say Carbajal accidentally spilled beer on Garrett’s shoes after a verbal altercation during which Carbajal called Garrett a racial slur on that night in September 2015. Garrett walked to his car at a gas pump, got in and then walked back to Carbajal. He then shot Carbajal and fled, prosecutors say.
Defense and prosecutors’ opening statements Tuesday morning focused on similar arguments made in the first trial.
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Prosecutor John Trippi walked jurors through the evidence, including surveillance footage of the shooting, during his opening argument. He told jurors to pay attention to specific details, such as clothing and car type, that would prove Garrett was the man seen in the surveillance video walking up to Carbajal, shooting him from about two feet away.
“This case is very unique in that you will see the crime,” Trippi said. “Pay attention to small details. Watch the vehicle he drove, what the shooter was wearing and the interaction between the men.”
Trippi argued that Garrett did not shoot Carbajal out of fear or self-defense, but instead because he was angry about the verbal altercation.
“Oscar uses the N-word. That was enough to cost Oscar his life. Within five minutes of meeting Oscar, the defendant decided he needed to die. This was cold-blooded, deliberate murder,” Trippi said.
Defense attorney Gregory Nester simply told the jury in his opening statements to “pay close attention” to witnesses, details and evidence they hear throughout the trial.
“You’ll find that Lamarc Garrett is not guilty to first degree murder. Pay close attention and keep an open mind,” Nester said.
Witnesses called to testify during the course of the trial include two of Carbajal’s friends who witnessed the shooting, the cashier of the convenience store where the shooting occurred and workers of Club Oz who also saw the shooting. Each of them also testified during the first trial.