Trial of Calif. medic killed in carjacking begins

A teenager is charged with shooting off-duty medic Quinn Boyer as he was stopped in his car sending a text message about medical equipment

By Malaika Fraley
Contra Costa Times

OAKLAND, Calif. — The widow of slain Santa Clara County paramedic Quinn Boyer was the first to testify at the trial for two teens charged with murdering the 34-year-old Oakland native whose friends and family, including paramedics in uniform, filled the Oakland courtroom.

"He never felt like a boyfriend, he never felt like my husband -- he felt like my best friend," said Elizabeth Huerta Boyer, who was approaching her marriage anniversary and trying to start a family with Boyer when he was killed. "It's like not having a limb, and it's a nightmare. It's a literal nightmare."

Christian Burton, 18, and David McNeal, 17 -- who were 16 and 15, respectively, at the time of the shooting -- are being prosecuted as adults for Boyer's killing. The incident occurred, prosecutor Glenn Kim said, when they and four other teens, the youngest 14, skipped school April 2, 2013, and embarked on a two-day crime spree. Burton is alleged to have fatally shot Boyer, and McNeal is accused of using the same gun to shoot and wound a 13-year-old Oakland boy during a robbery the following day.

Defense attorney Ernie Castillo said Monday that Burton was pressured by police into making a false confession to Boyer's death and that eyewitness accounts show the real shooter was the crime spree ringleader.

"I'm going to spend a tremendous amount of time proving to you that the shooter in this case was Nazhee Flowers," Castillo said.

Flowers, 18, was convicted in adult court for carjacking in connection with the case and recently was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Besides the defendants themselves, he is the only teen present that day who won't be taking the witness stand at the current trial.

Damani Watts, Maurice Senegal and Rodkei Royal, who were each convicted of first-degree murder in juvenile court and are serving out their sentences, are expected to take the witness stand, Kim said.

Kim opened the trial by showing a photo of a beaming Boyer at his April 2012 wedding. The Oakland native had spent the morning taking his father to a pre-op medical appointment in Palo Alto and was planning on spending time later with his little brother through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. That photo was replaced by police video of Boyer slumped over his steering wheel with blood gushing from his head, images that sent many of his friends and family running from the courtroom in tears.

Boyer was not far from his father's Oakland hills home when he pulled over on Keller Avenue around noon to send a text message about equipment he and his paramedic partner needed.

The teens spotted him as they were looking for their next carjacking victim, feeling cramped with the six of them in the Dodge Intrepid some of them had carjacked from a retired Oakland man at High Street and Congress Avenue an hour earlier, Kim said.

An Oakland woman will testify she was approaching the stop sign at Keller Avenue and Hansom Drive when she saw the Intrepid stop next to Boyer's car. Kim said Flowers and Burton both got out, and Burton fired at Boyer. Castillo said the witness saw only Flowers.

Burton is charged with Boyer's murder only, while McNeal is charged with numerous felonies in connection with the two-day spree. McNeal's attorney, David Bryden, didn't mention those alleged crimes during his opening statement and simply said that McNeal played no part in Boyer's death.

Some of the teens, including McNeal, allegedly carjacked another man that afternoon near an East Oakland elementary school as children were present, and at least two of the teens led Oakland police and an Alameda County sheriff's deputy on a high-speed chase.

That chase led witnesses, including one of the officers, to wrongly identify two other teenagers as being responsible for the second carjacking. But it was one of those wrongly accused boys who gave Oakland police their big break in the Boyer murder case: He was able to name Royal as one of the teens on surveillance video from in and outside a market before the first carjacking, Kim said.

Boyer was declared brain-dead April 4, 2013. Roger Boyer testified Monday that he and his daughter-in-law didn't want to take him off life support, but they knew that Quinn Boyer wished that his organs be donated to people in need in case of such a tragedy.

Testimony continues Tuesday in the court of Judge C. Don Clay.


©2015 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

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