Anthony Mallory told jurors Monday that he was afraid when he fatally stabbed 55-year-old Michael Ochoa in the neck during a confrontation on Aug. 21, 2018.
“He was tall, dark hair, dark eyes — he’s a big dude,” Mallory told jurors.
Mallory, 21, testified Monday in Yakima County Superior Court. He’s charged with second-degree murder in Ochoa’s death.
Defense attorney Ken Therrien walked Mallory through the incident that day, asking clarifying questions about how the stabbing unfolded in an attempt to erase any idea that Mallory intentionally set out to harm Ochoa.
But Deputy Prosecutor Sam Chen probed Mallory about whether a real physical threat existed in an effort to unravel any claim of self-defense.
Mallory said he left a friend’s house on MacLaren Street when he was confronted by Ochoa.
Mallory told jurors that he went to help his evicted friends finish moving from their MacLaren Street home, but they weren’t there. He said he went to a neighboring mutual friend to find out where they went.
Upon leaving, Mallory said he was confronted by Ochoa, who asked where his evicted friends went.
Ochoa let them use his trailer and was trying to locate it.
“I told him I don’t know,” Mallory said.
Mallory said he attempted to walk around Ochoa but couldn’t.
“I stopped,” he said. “Honestly, I was pretty scared. This guy was a lot bigger than I was.”
Mallory, who was 18 at the time, said Ochoa threatened to knock him out. He said he told Ochoa: “You’d threaten a kid like that?”
Mallory said Ochoa then came at him with his fists clinched at his sides, asking Mallory if he wanted to be threatened more.
“I pulled out my knife,” Mallory said. “When he came toward me, I thought I was going to the hospital.”
Mallory said he turned to face Ochoa.
“I didn’t know what this guy was going to do,” Mallory said. “When he came toward me, I stabbed him.”
Mallory said he ran down an alley and eventually home. He said he immediately took a shower to clear his head and wash off blood.
“I didn’t want my family to have to see me with blood on me,” he said.
During cross-examination, however, Chen sternly queried Mallory about just how Ochoa threatened him. He also probed Mallory about his training in martial arts and compared his statements Monday to previous testimony he provided in a trial earlier this year.
That trial ended in a mistrial when a juror visited the scene of the incident and shared that information with other jurors during deliberations, which violated jury rules.
Chen focused on the year-and-a-half training Mallory had in jujitsu, asking him if lessons taught him how to defend against someone with a weapon and how to stay calm in such situations.
Chen pressed Mallory about just how Ochoa became a physical threat.
“Now, Michael Ochoa didn’t have a knife, is that right?” Chen asked, “Now Michael Ochoa didn’t have brass knuckles — you didn’t see him with a weapon?”
Chen began firing off questions before Mallory could answer, which drew objections from Therrien.
Mallory testified that he didn’t intend to kill Ochoa when he stabbed him. Mallory said he aimlessly swung at Ochoa with the knife in hopes of getting him to stop approaching.
But Chen pressed him, asking if his martial arts training taught him to end a threat. Mallory said yes.
“So this wasn’t an accidental stabbing of Mr. Ochoa,” Chen said. “This was an intentional striking of Michael Ochoa in the throat to incapacitate him — isn’t that correct?”
Closing arguments are expected to begin Tuesday.