Kansas City, Mo. A former security guard who shot a man to death in 2003 for driving the wrong direction on a one-way street was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and armed criminal action.
A Jackson County jury on Thursday recommended minimum sentences of five years and three years, respectively, for Vincent Flores, 34, of Kansas City, who killed Gerald Meszaros, 58, on Aug. 12, 2003, in the northeast part of the city where the two men lived.
A judge will decide later whether to impose the sentences consecutively or concurrently.
Flores was on his way to work when he confronted Meszaros, who was taking a routine shortcut to his home. Testimony showed that Meszaros refused to get out of the car and repeatedly bumped the vehicle into Flores.
Defense attorneys tried to convince the jury that Flores was afraid for his life because he was being bumped by the car and he shot Meszaros through the windshield in self-defense.
Flores yelled "stop, stop, stop" and fired, defense attorney Burton Haigh told jurors.
"How long was he supposed to wait? Until he was being dragged down that hill on his back?" Haigh said.
The attorney also noted that Meszaros' blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal driving limit, which he said supported Flores' claims that Meszaros was hostile and irrational.
But prosecutors said Flores, who had been a security guard for about a month, was mad because Meszaros wouldn't get out of the car when he was told to do so.
"You know what? He doesn't have to" take orders from someone who is not a police officer, assistant prosecutor Mark Jones said.
"The defendant shot Gerald Meszaros on a public street over a parking ticket," Jones said. "He did it when the car was in park."
The state was trying to convict Flores of second-degree murder, but the jury decided voluntary manslaughter was more appropriate. Jury foreman Larry Beasley of Blue Springs said it took jurors about eight hours to reach their decision.
"We thought Mr. Flores with the pistol was in control of the situation," Beasley said. "He could have just walked away."
After the verdicts were read, Peggy Lee, a friend of Meszaros, called the shooting death a tragedy in which one neighbor senselessly killed another.