Trial against Eric Bratton underway for Independence Mall shooting

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - The man accused of shooting two people inside Independence Center last year took the stand Tuesday in his own defense.

And at the end of the first day of hearings, 25-year-old Eric Bratton tried to explain what led to his actions on January 14, 2012.

"I was aiming for Dilon Yates because I was afraid for my life," Bratton said. "I thought he was going to shoot me.

Bratton admitted to pulling the trigger, but said he was confronted first. In fact, Bratton said Yates was the one who threatened to shoot someone.

Prosecutors did not buy Bratton's story when asked if he feared for his life. Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker noted that Bratton had the opportunity to walk away from Yates during the fight.

"We both did," Bratton responded.

Earlier in the day, both shooting victims took the stand against Bratton.

Yates and his girlfriend, Rochelle Moore, both 18, said Bratton and a friend made crude comments about Rochelle as they were walking into the mall last January.

Bratton's attorney admitted Tuesday that he started shooting after a series of confrontations, but said he fired the gun only in self defense. The attorney claimed Yates had assaulted Bratton during one of the previous confrontations at the mall, and when Yates lunged the last time, Bratton drew his gun for protection.

The victims claim Bratton threatened to kill Dilon Yates.

"I've got two for you. One for your leg and one for your head," Bratton said, according to victim testimony.

A bullet narrowly missed Yates' head. Yates said he felt and heard it whiz by. Two other bullets hit him in the leg and Moore in the foot.

No one else was hurt in the shooting.

Bratton faces two charges of armed criminal action as well as first- and second-degree assault.

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