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Christopher Araujo (19) died after he was shot multiple times in the face
Published: Nov 27, 2008 @ 3:08 PM
Christopher Araujo (19)
Oct 08, 2006
Cause of Death:
West Palm Beach, FL
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What happened after Norman Borden fired five shots at the Jeep coming at him: self-defense or murder?
There's little disagreement surrounding the circumstances behind the deaths of Christopher Araujo and Saul Trejo, prosecutor Craig Williams told jurors Wednesday during his opening statement in Borden's murder trial.
Even Juan Mendez, who survived the shooting with injuries to his legs, testified that he and Araujo were going to go beat up Borden. Trejo was needed as a third man against Borden, Mendez said, to "rough him up a little bit."
Williams told jurors up front that Trejo was a documented member of the violent street gang Sur 13. And, he said, he doesn't deny that if there hadn't been a fence post on Hiawatha Avenue, Norman Borden probably would have gotten hit by the Jeep that Araujo was driving.
Borden, 44, pulled out his gun and shot five rounds through the windshield.
"I'm not going to stand here and tell you that's not some form of self-defense," Williams said. "It is. That's not in dispute."
After quickly firing off five rounds, Borden circled around the Jeep and unloaded his gun, Williams said. Araujo, 19, was shot multiple times in the face. Trejo, 21, was shot once. Mendez was shot several times in his legs.
The only issue for jurors to decide, Williams said, is whether the threat to Borden was still imminent before he decided to fire nine more rounds.
Borden is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
But Public Defender Carey Haughwout, who previously sought to dismiss the murder charges against Borden based on Florida's 2005 "stand your ground" law, said every shot Borden fired, he fired to save his life.
"He pulls out the gun and starts shooting and he does not stop," Haughwout said during her opening statement. "He does not stop because the danger is there, the danger is real."
Florida law now eliminates the duty to retreat and allows a person to use deadly force when danger is imminent.
Immediately after the shooting, Haughwout said, Borden was sorrowful and mournful.
"Why did you make me do this?" Borden asked when the shooting ended.
His friend, Jim Stonehouse, who witnessed the shooting, testified Borden was distraught and at the point of tears after the shooting.
What had started out as a "fun and joyful" night for Borden, who went with Stonehouse to a concert in Sunrise, ended in a desperate and necessary effort to save his own life, Haughwout said.
This wasn't the first time Borden had clashed with young men in the Westgate neighborhood west of West Palm Beach. Earlier that day, he had attempted to talk to Araujo's father about being harassed.
When Borden returned from the concert early on the morning of Oct. 8, the taunting continued, Haughwout said. His dogs were threatened.
Araujo and Mendez, who had been watching the movie Scarface and between them had consumed two dozen beers, spotted Borden outside walking his dogs.
Mendez, who now lives in Arizona, denied threatening the dogs or Borden with an ominous warning that he and Araujo had bats as weapons. During the altercation, Borden kicked the door of Araujo's Jeep, which Mendez was hanging out of, to prevent Mendez from getting out. Borden also flashed a gun after seeing Araujo stop the car in anger.
The act of kicking the door so infuriated Araujo that the two men went to get Trejo, Mendez admitted. Trejo walked out of his home wearing black gloves. A 13-year-old boy who initially was in the car with the pair testified that there was discussion about going to get a gun, but Mendez denied Wednesday that anyone was going to get a gun.
Mendez testified that with Trejo sitting in the back seat, Araujo drove a different route back to Borden's house so they could surprise him. But Araujo "took the corner too fast" and hit the fence, narrowly missing Borden.
"When the shooting started I ducked down and I was trying to put the car in reverse to try to get out of the line of fire," Mendez said. "It wouldn't move."
Borden then yelled, "You guys think you're so bad? You're not so bad anymore," Mendez testified. He then went inside and called 911.
Detectives found no gun in the Jeep, although a bat was found resting against Trejo's leg.
Within a day of the shooting and Borden's arrest, his home was set on fire. Borden has since received death threats, Haughwout said. His trial has generated extra security at the courthouse.
Jurors must decide if Palm Beach County man's actions were self-defense
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