Spencer "Lee" Newcomer IV told jurors Thursday he didn't want to kill neighbor David Wintermyer, but had no choice.
"He was going to kill me," the defendant said. "The look in his eye, the way he was coming at me ... it was a rage. He was seething."
He testified he was "scared to death."
Newcomer IV, 43, of 3812 Sylvan Drive in Springettsbury Township, is charged with first- and third-degree murder for killing 47-year-old David Wintermyer in the street in front of their homes about 9:15 a.m. June 10.
Several eyewitnesses, mostly neighbors, have testified the two men were arguing that morning, and Newcomer began to pull away but backed up, got out of his truck and fatally shot Wintermyer.
Those eyewitnesses told jurors
But Newcomer testified Wintermyer -- a former Marine -- did reach into his front pocket and was pulling out something black. Newcomer said he was afraid it was a gun, so he fired at Wintermyer.
'No choice': "I didn't have a choice," he said. "I've never been scared like that before."
Testimony revealed Wintermyer wasn't armed when he was killed. He was shot three times in the chest and once in the middle of his back.
Under questioning by defense attorney Chris Ferro, Newcomer didn't really address witness testimony that Wintermyer was frustrated because Newcomer regularly allowed his three dogs to defecate in Wintermyer's yard.
He did recount incidents of vandalism to his home and vehicle, and said that by April 2012, he had come to believe Wintermyer was responsible.
Vandalism: Testimony from neighbor Craig Becker confirmed Wintermyer on several occasions knocked over Newcomer's wood piles and that he was likely the person who let the air out of Newcomer's tires on one occasion and used soap to write profanity on the vehicle's windows on another occasion.
Newcomer said he also believes Wintermyer tried to poison his dog, and his veterinarian, Dr. Charles London, on Thursday afternoon took the stand to confirm Newcomer brought in two of his dogs, distraught and upset for their welfare. The dogs recovered and it was never determined they'd been poisoned, London said.
Newcomer said that the night before the killing, he and his girlfriend were sitting on his back porch when Wintermyer began yelling at her about the dog feces, apparently unable to see Newcomer from where he was standing.
Wintermyer told her "it better not happen again," adding, "I will literally hold your head down and make you eat this dog s--t."
Newcomer said Wintermyer then said, "If Spencer doesn't like that, send him over."
Shot finger: Newcomer said the words he exchanged with Wintermyer in the minutes before the man was killed consisted of Wintermyer complaining about the dogs and Newcomer complaining about branches being thrown onto his property.
Newcomer said he began to drive away, at which point Wintermyer yelled, "F-- you," and Newcomer replied by shooting Wintermyer the finger.
"He hollered, 'I'm going over to get those dogs,'" Newcomer testified. No prosecution eyewitnesses reported hearing that statement.
"I thought he was going to kill my dogs and hurt (my girlfriend) Bonnie," he said. "I couldn't leave them there alone."
Threat? So Newcomer said he backed up his truck and got out, which is when he first realized Wintermyer was only a few feet away from him.
"He growled, 'I'm gonna fix you.' I reached in my truck," the defendant said, and retrieved the 9mm handgun he carried with him everywhere.
"He was going to kill me," Newcomer said.
Under cross-examination by York County District Attorney Tom Kearney, Newcomer insisted he wasn't angry when he pulled the trigger four times. He also repeatedly said he was never angry at Wintermyer.
Asked why he would shoot the finger at a man he was afraid of -- and whom he previously described as "unhinged" -- Newcomer said he wasn't scared "right at (that) moment."
Truck's position: Newcomer couldn't explain why, if he was afraid for his girlfriend and dogs, he wouldn't have backed up his truck to his own home and driveway.
And although witness accounts suggest he backed up his truck to the area where Wintermyer had walked to, Newcomer insisted he had no idea Wintermyer was just feet from where he stopped his truck and climbed out.
"You want to believe this is self-defense, don't you?" Kearney asked the defendant. "It's the only way you can live with yourself."
But Newcomer never wavered from his account and insisted he was afraid Wintermyer was going to kill him.
Late night: Defense testimony will likely continue until about 8 p.m. Thursday, presiding Common Pleas Judge Richard K. Renn told jurors.
Rebuttal testimony from the prosecution is expected Friday.
-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.