Suspects in fatal Potrero Hill shooting claim self-defense 

The attorney for an alleged killer says his client acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Sylvestri Brown, 33, in a spat over the use of a cell phone.

On Friday, Antoine Grays, 29, and his girlfriend Toyia Taylor, 18, pleaded not guilty to multiple charges in connection with the fatal shooting outside a Potrero Hill apartment complex Jan. 30.

Brown was shot once in the upper body in the 900 block of Connecticut Street about 8:15 p.m., police said. Brown, believed to have had an ongoing dispute with either Grays or Taylor, got into an argument with the couple after he refused to let them use his cell phone, according to prosecutor Braden Woods, head of the district attorney’s office homicide unit.

Brown had been visiting his girlfriend that night. Grays and Taylor were squatting in the apartment above that of Brown’s girlfriend, Woods said.

Grays then allegedly shot Brown with a stolen gun, Woods said.

Grays’ attorney, Tal Klement, chided the media Friday for reporting the dispute was over the use of a cell phone, calling it “total simplification” and “not a reflection of what happened.”

“In this situation, Mr. Grays was not the aggressor,” Klement said. “It’s clearly a case of self-defense.” Prosecutors declined to dispute Klement’s claim.

“This is a case to be decided in court, and not the court of public opinion,” Assistant District Attorney Seth Steward said. “We are going to let 12 people [members of the jury] decide this case.”

Grays was charged with murder, for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, and for possession of stolen property. Taylor was charged as an accessory to murder, and also for possession of a loaded firearm not registered to her.

“She was caught with the murder weapon, secreting it for Grays,” Woods told a judge last week. Grays is being held without bail and Taylor on $1 million bail.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

Bay City News contributed to this report

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