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San Diego County Digest


February 19, 1988

A jury was impaneled Thursday to hear the case of a Vista man charged with trying to murder a sheriff's deputy during a shoot-out in a Vista neighborhood.

Opening statements were scheduled to begin today in Mark Raymond Phelps' trial before San Diego Superior Court Judge William D. Mudd. The trial was moved from North County because no courtrooms were available within the time prosecutors had to begin the case.

Phelps, 27, is accused of ambushing Deputy James Bennetts, who was wounded twice by bullets from a submachine gun during his July 31 chase of a car registered to Phelps, who the deputy knew had outstanding arrest warrants.

Bennetts, a 4-year veteran, was found by other deputies sitting against his bullet-riddled patrol car. His assailant eluded an all-night manhunt.

Phelps, who also faces methamphetamine charges in federal court, was arrested Aug. 2 after another car chase and shoot-out with authorities along California 78 in San Marcos.

The defendant was arrested after running into a furniture store, where a salesman persuaded him to give up his weapons and led him outside, where authorities were waiting.

The salesman, Carroll Balko, received a citizen's award last week from Sheriff John Duffy for his bravery and quick action.

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