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Accused Beverly Hills killer was a coward, D.A. tells jurors

In closing arguments Monday, prosecutors portrayed a 25-year-old man as a coward who waited in a Beverly Hills carport dressed in a black ninja-like outfit before stabbing his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend 58 times with a kitchen knife and leaving him to die.

But defense attorneys for Scott Barker offered jurors another explanation in the 2010 slaying of Katsutoshi “Tony” Takazato, suggesting the killer was most likely one of the many people to whom he owed money.

Jurors will begin their first full day of deliberations in the case Tuesday. If convicted, Baker faces a possible sentence of life in prison.

The Los Angeles County district attorney alleges that Barker was driven to murder after learning that Takazato was leaning on Chie Coggins-Johnson to do porn shots and engage in prostitution to pay off his debts. Coggins-Johnson, who had earlier dated Takazato, was Barker’s girlfriend at the time.

“When Tony Takazato walked out in his boxer shorts, barefoot and holding his car keys, Tony didn’t have a chance,” prosecutor Amy Carter said during Monday’s closing arguments.

Coggins-Johnson originally faced murder charges but pleaded no contest to assault with a deadly weapon and was given five years of probation in exchange for her testimony.

On the witness stand, Coggins-Johnson relied heavily on a 38-page statement she wrote while in jail to refresh her memory.

Bradley Brunon, Barker's attorney, depicted her as a liar who would say anything to get out of a tight spot.

Coggins-Johnson said Barker -- dressed in all-black clothing -- dragged her out of bed and made her drive him to Takazato’s home in the Trousdale Estates neighborhood.

Once there, she said, they scaled a fence and she knocked on his window before speaking to Takazato briefly at his front door. Later, she said, she heard two men arguing and recalled a shirtless Barker climbing into the car.

They then went to Malibu, where he washed his blood-soaked clothing before hiking down a hillside to dump the clothes and bloodied car mats, she testified. Authorities later found the items, with her help.

Although forensic analysts found traces of Barker’s DNA on the clothing, Brunon argued that Coggins-Johnson would have had access to his client’s clothing. In addition, he said Barker’s DNA was not found at the crime scene.

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-- Adolfo Flores

 
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