PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Testimony began Wednesday in the Michael Drejka manslaughter case.
Michael Drejka shot and killed Markeis McGlockton in a Circle A convenience store parking lot last year after an argument over a handicapped parking spot.
The five men, one woman and three alternates who were seated as jurors on Tuesday reported to court at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday
The state began with its opening statement, telling jurors Drejka is guilty of the crime of manslaughter. In his opening statement, Assistant State Attorney Fred Schaub brought up Drejka’s history of confrontations.
He also painted a picture of what happened in the Clearwater parking lot on July 19, 2018. Schaub said McGlockton pushed Drejka away from his girlfriend’s car “hard” but says he then backed up and turned away as he was shot. Schaub noted that McGlockton was unarmed at the time.
The prosecution wrapped its opening statement by urging the jury to take their time and look at the evidence.
Defense Attorney Bryant Camareno then delivered his statements, telling the jurors to watch the video of the shooting in real-time because “life doesn’t happen in slow motion.” Camareno warned jurors that witnesses would change their stories to fit a crime that didn’t happen. He also told jurors that McGlockton’s girlfriend informed Drejka that “my man is going to f you up” and described McGlockton’s push as a violent shove.
Camareno noted that Drejka did not run after the shooting, he waited for police to arrive so he could explain what happened.
“We’re not driven by politics and emotion,” Camareno said. “We are driven by the facts. Just the facts.”
The defense told the jurors the use of deadly force was justifiable and excusable in the case before wrapping its opening statements.
Jurors took a 10-minute break after the opening statement before testimony began.
The first witness called to testify was Richard Kelly, a man who had a previous encounter with Drejka. Kelly testified that during that encounter, Drejka walked around his truck taking pictures and told him “I should shoot you” for parking in a handicap spot. Kelly said he saw Drejka’s SUV the day of the shooting and recognized it as the same one he was driving during their confrontation.
Detective Nelson DeLeon then took the stand briefly and spoke about his conversation with Kelly at the crime scene.
John Tyler then took the stand. He owns the company Kelly works for and testified about Drejka contacting him about his driver parking in a handicap spot. According to Tyler’s testimony, Drejka told him “if I had a gun, I would have shot him.”
After Tyler’s testimony, Abdalla Salous took the stand. Salous owns the Circle A convenience store and testified about hearing Drejka arguing with Richard Kelly outside his store. Salous testified that Drejka told him he “can’t help himself” and that he is always getting himself in trouble.
On the stand, Salous described Drejka as a “calm guy” but nosy.
After a lunch break, jurors heard from Britany Jacobs, the girlfriend of McGlockton who police say parked in the handicap spot and was initially approached by Drejka.
Jacobs called McGlockton her soulmate and her partner. She testified about Drejka yelling and pointing and telling her where to park. Jacobs also told jurors McGlockton was “fighting for his life.”
The trial is expected to last two weeks.