If looks could kill, Eric Hazelgrove would have died Tuesday as he faced the man he is accused of trying to murder.
Hazelgrove is on trial in the shooting of Lee Harrell, 56, a lunch wagon vendor, at an Interstate 5 rest stop north of Oceanside last August.
Harrell, his eyes riveted on the 30-year-old defendant, described during the first day of testimony in Vista Superior Court how he was about to finish an all-night shift when Hazelgrove and two women pulled into the Aliso Creek rest area.
Harrell, who is black, said he had had no words with his attacker and was unaware that he had been shot until he felt "a little pain" in his stomach. When he put his hand to the spot, he said, "I saw blood on it."
Outside the courtroom, Deputy Dist. Atty. Greg Walden said that Hazelgrove is "extremely prejudiced. He hates blacks. He is also extremely jealous, and he may have thought that Harrell was making passes at his girlfriend."
Hazelgrove is charged with two counts of attempted murder because he allegedly shot Harrell once in the stomach, then two minutes later shot at him five more times, hitting him with four bullets.
Harrell testified Tuesday that he had never met Hazelgrove and that he did not speak to him Aug. 6, the day of the shooting.
Harrell still carries two .22-caliber slugs, one lodged near his spine and one near his heart, he said.
Walden, in his opening statement, said Hazelgrove, his girlfriend, Kerry Wagner, and her cousin, Jennie Wagner, had stopped at the rest stop about 6:30 a.m., and that Kerry Wagner had obtained mayonnaise and mustard from a vendor to make egg salad sandwiches.
With bystanders watching, Hazelgrove pulled a gun from his belt, took a marksman's stance, with two hands on the gun, and shot Harrell, Walden said.
Then he and his two passengers headed north on I-5, Walden said, where they were spotted by a San Clemente police officer, who gave chase. They were eventually caught by pursuing officers in a San Juan Capistrano shopping center, where one of the women grabbed the car keys from the ignition, Walden said. When the car stopped, the women jumped out and ran away.
After questioning, they were released, and Hazelgrove was returned to San Diego, where he has been held in lieu of $1 million bail. Since his arrest, Hazelgrove has twice assaulted black prisoners at the County Jail in Vista, Walden said.
Hazelgrove faces two counts of attempted murder, one count of being a felon in possession of a weapon and one count of fleeing to avoid arrest, Walden said. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to a maximum sentence of 20 years to life in state prison.
The defense has not yet presented its case.