RENO, Nev. (AP) — A female trespasser who survived a shooting in a vacant Nevada duplex testified Wednesday that the property owner entered the unit and opened fire without provocation, wounding her three times and killing a man on the floor next to her.
Janai Wilson testified in Washoe District Court in Reno before prosecutors rested their case against Wayne Burgarello on charges of murder and attempted murder.
Wilson broke into tears as she recalled hearing at least six gunshots in the rundown rental unit in Sparks while she huddled beneath a comforter, fearing the shooter would kill her, too.
"It seemed like just one after another — bang, bang, bang, bang," Wilson said. "There was a slight break, nothing very long, but a slight pause in between."
Burgarello, 74, has said he fired in self-defense when he killed 34-year-old Cody Devine and seriously wounded Wilson on Feb. 13, 2014.
Neither trespasser had a gun, but Burgarello told police Devine's arm "came up like a gun." His defense attorney said Burgarello may have mistaken a black flashlight found at the scene for a firearm.
Two neighbors testified Wednesday that Burgarello told them years earlier that he might arm himself and wait for people responsible for repeatedly vandalizing and burglarizing the vacant duplex.
"He told me, 'I'm going to be waiting inside with a gun,'" Kevin Morgan said.
The defense is scheduled to call witnesses Thursday, with closing arguments planned Friday in the case that highlights Nevada's "stand your ground" law. It allows deadly force against attackers who pose an imminent threat, regardless of whether they are armed, but specifies the shooter cannot be the initial aggressor.
Wilson, 30, said she met Devine the night before the shooting at a casino. She said he offered to give her a ride to pick up a discarded table to take to the abandoned duplex, where she had lived off and on for three years and was trying to establish squatter's rights by listing the address on her driver's license.
Wilson said she injected methamphetamine at the duplex, but Devine didn't because he couldn't find a vein. She said she was later awakened by what sounded like someone crashing through the front door, followed by an angry voice saying, "What are you doing in my house?"
Wilson said Devine replied, "We were just sleeping."
Wilson said she looked up and saw Burgarello in the bedroom doorway with a gun.
"I realized it was my responsibility to talk to the guy, so I looked up to respond to him," Wilson said. "I saw him with a gun, and shoot Cody. He raised it and shot. I screamed."
Devine was shot five times, once through the skull. Wilson said the second shot hit her leg. She was also shot in the arm and stomach.
"I didn't move at all. I was scared," she testified.
She soon heard another man who sounded like he was outside the duplex ask, "What's going on in there?" She said the first voice answered, "They're in my house and I shot them."
Lying motionless, Wilson said she heard the heavy breathing of the first man returning to the bedroom and began to worry her "breathing was just as heavy as his and he'd know I was still alive — and that he wouldn't want me alive."
She said she knew she was trespassing but Devine didn't.
"It was not his fault we were there," she said, wiping away tears.