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Vista : Injured Deputy Says Suspect Shot Without Reason

October 27, 1987

Sheriff's Deputy James Bennetts testified Monday that Mark Raymond Phelps began firing a submachine gun without provocation and wounded Bennetts as he attempted to hide behind his patrol car in a confrontation July 31 in rural Vista.

Bennetts said he was attempting to arrest Phelps on a no-bail felony warrant charging him with assaulting a deputy when Phelps began firing from his car. Bennetts said he tried to take cover when he heard Phelps reloading.

"I heard my car being hit by fire," he said. "I started to get back down. I felt a solid, blunt hit to the chest."

The testimony came during the first day of Phelps' preliminary hearing before Vista Municipal Court Judge Suzanne Knauf to determine whether he should stand trial on two counts of attempted murder.

Phelps, 28, entered the courtroom shackled at the feet and waist. During the daylong hearing he was chained by one arm to his chair.

Defense attorney John Emerson said he will prove that Bennetts fired the first shot; Bennetts insists he fired only in self-defense.

Phelps is charged with wounding Bennetts and then firing at Deputy Alfred Mackrill two days later before surrendering.

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