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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 11:24 a.m., Thursday, December 11, 2003

Mark describes shooting in lot of Moanalua church

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Shane Mark took the witness stand in his own defense today and described the night of Feb. 1 when, out of fear for his life and his pregnant girlfriend, he fired two shots at men he believed were about to rob him and beat him in the parking lot of an Moanalua church.

Mark, 29, is charged with the March 4 shooting death of Honolulu police Officer Glen Gaspar in a Kapolei ice cream shop. If convicted of first-degree murder, Mark would face a mandatory life term in prison without the possibility of parole.

Gaspar was shot during a struggle in an ice cream store at the shopping center as he and fellow officer Calvin Sung attempted to arrest Mark.

Mark was expected to testify on his own behalf, but the timing of his testimony today surprised many in Circuit Judge Karen Ahnís courtroom because defendants usually take the stand after all the witnesses have been called. At least three more defense witnesses are expected to testify today. As of mid-morning Mark had not testified about any of the events surrounding the shooting death of Gaspar.

Mark told Ahn that he wanted to testify this morning. He gave no reason for his decision.

On the stand, Mark described himself as a 9th-grade dropout from Waialua High and Intermediate School who spent all but one grade level in special education. He said he was raised by his father and a series of his fatherís girlfriends and stepmother because his biological mother was "busy" raising three daughters.

Mark testified that on Feb. 1 he arranged a meeting with two men to exchange a broken video camera and computer that Mark said he bought and later sold to another man. But when Mark and his girlfriend, Leslie Martin, met the men in the churchís parking lot, Mark said, he was scared by the behavior of the two men.

One man told Mark that he didnít have the money to give Mark and that they would take the camera anyway. The two men then approached Mark in an aggressive manner and that he feared for his safety and that of his pregnant girlfriend.

At that point Mark said he retrieved a handgun from the back seat of his car. He testified that he fired a shot above the head of one of the men, who then fled.

As the other man began to sneak around a parked car, Mark testified that he reached over the car and shot the man in the leg. Mark testified that he did not intend on killing the man. In fact, he said he told Martin that they needed to take the wounded man to the hospital.

But when the man saw them coming at him, he ran to a military police guard post nearby for help. Mark said he and Martin then fled.

Mark was expected to be on the witness stand for most of the morning.

Deputy Public Defender Debra Loy does not dispute that Mark fired the fatal shots in the Gaspar shooting. But she said Mark acted in self-defense, because he feared retaliation from the two men involved in the Feb. 1 incident in the parking lot of the First Assembly of God Church in Moanalua.

Loy also contends that Gaspar and Sung, both in street clothes, did not identify themselves as police officers as they grabbed Mark, who had no way of knowing who was trying to subdue him.

Manuel Torres III, who said he had known Mark for about five years, testified yesterday that Mark had stayed at his Waikiki apartment for three days in late February. One morning, Torres said he saw Mark asleep with a gun near his hand and shouted at Mark to wake up.

Torres said Mark apologized for having the weapon and began to cry. He then confessed that he had shot at two men Feb. 1 and was afraid they would come after him.

In November, Mark pleaded no contest to a charge of possessing a firearm in the Feb. 1 incident.

He pleaded no contest to another firearms possession count, as well as possession of crystal methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia after his arrest as a suspect in the Gaspar shooting.

Reach Curtis Lum at 525-8025 or culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.