Was Kyle Jacobs living in fear of a violent man who he believed was going to kill him? Or was he an angry man who refused to back down from a fight even if it meant killing someone he once considered a close friend?
Those were the questions for a jury charged with deciding the fate of 26-year-old Jacobs. He is accused of murdering his former roommate, 39-year-old Ryan Modica, on April 7, 2011 at a home in 1100 block of North Del Sol Lane.
Jacobs claims he was defending himself from Modica, who was threatening him with a metal hammer.
On June 19, a jury of six women and six men began deliberations after a morning of final arguments by attorneys.
Deputy District Attorney T.D. Pham played audio recordings of a detective interviewing Jacobs following the shooting. The suspect is heard telling a detective he had thought about a final confrontation with Modica. He also conceded that he did have other options rather than shoot Modica.
The best option was to leave their home and live in fear that Modica was going to come after them, said defense attorney Matthew Kaestner. Jacobs and his mother, Christine Jacobs, had left the home days before the killing for fear of Modica, Kaestner said.
Kyle Jacobs returned to the home because he, “wanted to sleep in his own bed,” Kaestner said. Still, the night before Modica had made threats through a friend, witnesses said during the trial.
Pham insisted the better option would have been to let the law handle Modica and his threats. Instead, on the morning of April 7, and despite his insistence that he was afraid Modica, Jacobs was at the home working in the garage with the door open.
When Modica arrived at the home to retrieve a tool he had left at the home, Jacobs walked several feet down the driveway to confront Modica instead of calling 9-1-1, Pham said.
“He could have followed the legal road,” Pham told the jury during his closing argument. “Why wasn’t that done? We don’t know.”
Kaestner said Jacobs did not call authorities because it had not worked in the past. Just the night before, Jacobs called 9-1-1 to ask about reporting the threat. He was told to call authorities if Modica did show up.
“Seconds matter but police are only minutes away,” Kaestner said.
The attorneys also disputed the shot fired from a shotgun, which struck Modica in the face just under the right eye. Pham explained that Jacobs was moving toward him to confront him. The shot was intended to kill him. Pham also suggested that Jacobs planted the hammer in order to claim self defense.
Kaestner insisted witness accounts that Modica advanced on Jacobs in a threatening manner is accurate.
“He was five feet away from the barrel of the gun,” Kaestner said. “What would have happened if Kyle had waited any longer?”
The jury will continue deliberations today.