‘Approximately 11 seconds later, the defendant shot Officer Tuder two more times’

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – Prosecutors on Monday began building their case against Marco Antonio Perez, who stands accused of killing a police officer in January 2019.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michele O’Brien told jurors during her opening statement that the evidence will show Perez was on the run when Officer Sean Tuder learned he was at the Peach Place Inn on Leroy Stevens Road in January 2019.

On Jan. 20 of that year, Tuder arrived in plain clothes and walked up to Perez. Prosecutors maintain that Tuder was trying to arrest Perez but that the defendant resisted. Surveillance video from the motel shows the beginning of a scuffle. But Tuder and Perez moved out of camera range. That is when Perez used a stolen .40-caliber Smith & Wesson gun to shoot Tuder, O’Brien said.

“Approximately 11 seconds later, the defendant shot Officer Tuder two more times,” she told jurors.

Charles Petty, who lived about two miles from the Peach Place Inn in January 2019, testified that someone stole his Smith & Wesson from his truck that was parked in the driveway. He recalled seeing a news alert about the shooting and then going outside to check his vehicle.

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“I just had a bad felling about it,” he said.

Mobile police Detective Dorothea Long testified that she investigated a missing person report made by Perez’s family a little more than a week before the shooting. She said she the report suggested that Perez might have been kidnapped. But she testified that she marked the report “unfounded” after determining that it was a hoax. She said it became clear that Perez was running from authorities.

A federal probation officer testified that leaving his parent’s home was a violation of the terms of Perez’s pre-trial release on an indictment handed up in 2018 charging him with a federal gun offense.

Tuder, who was 30 when he died, had been on the police force since March 2016 and had been named Officer of the Month in August of the following year. His death drew outrage throughout the community.

On Monday, defense attorney John Beck told jurors during his opening statement that he will not dispute much of the prosecution case. But he said prosecutors will not be able to prove a key element of the offense – that his client knew Tuder was a police officer.

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“Every bit of the case collapses in those few moments on the 20th (of January)” he said.

Proving that Perez knew Tuder was an officer is crucial, because the federal charge accuses the defendant of killing a witness in a federal case, namely the 2018 firearms indictment. Beck played a portion of the surveillance video and emphasized the way Tuder moved on Perez.

“The furthest thing from Marco Perez’s mind, I would submit, is that this was a police officer,” he said.

Beck said the evidence will show that Tuder was acting on his own that afternoon and arranged to meet Perez under the guise of being a friend’s uncle coming to give him a ride. He said Tuder did not properly inform his supervisors and coordinate the arrest attempt.

“Officer Tuder was not on duty,” he told jurors. “He was not running an undercover investigation. The other officers … didn’t even knew it was him there.”

The defense has dropped hints that it would argue that Tuder was operating outside official channels. Mobile Public Safety Director Lawrence Battiste told FOX10 News prior to the trial that he could not discuss the pending case in detail, but he pushed back against the defense insinuation.

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“I am somewhat offended that a defense attorney would make an effort to disparage the name of one of our officers that lost his life in the line of duty, defending out great city,” he said at the time.

Perez, now 22, faces three additional counts beyond the charge of killing a witness. Those are receiving a firearm while under indictment, possession of a stolen firearm and firing a gun during the commission of a violent crime.

If convicted from the last count, Perez faces a mandatory-minimum of 10 years in prison and could get life. His capital murder charge in Mobile County Circuit Court is set for next year.

Lawyers have said the federal trial will last at least a week and possibly two.

All content © 2021, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.


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