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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended December 15, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 15Dec00

By Kent Larsen

After 14 Months Of Silence, Solomona Tells His Story

BUENA PARK, CALIFORNIA -- Peter Solomona, on trial for murder in the October 18, 1999 death of popular high school student Brandon Ketsdever, publically told his version of the events leading to his shooting Ketsdever. In two hours of tearful testimony, Solomona said his gun accidentally discharged when his trigger finger knocked against the door frame of Ketsdever's car. His lawyer then told the court that Solomona, an LDS Church member, is the innocent victim of a tragic accident.

Solomona claims he had taken his .357 magnum handgun to his car because he planned to sell it, both because he needed the money and because his wife thought the gun was dangerous. But by 5 pm that day, Solomona had decided to postpone selling the gun that day. Then Ketsdever and his friends stole a plastic pumpkin decoration from Solomona's yard.

Solomona then drove around trying to find the teenagers and retrieve his pumpkin. Returning home, he discovered that another car had blocked the pranksters, by coincidence, in front of his house, following an altercation with them. Thinking he would scare the teenagers with his gun, Solomona went to Ketsdever's car and, according to his testimony, asked for his decoration back.

But the testimony of Ketsdever's friend, Frank Nelson, Solomona appeared angry, and yelled at Ketsdever, "Where's my orange pumpkin?" Two other witnesses claim Solomona then said, "Don't mess with me. Don't (expletive) with me. I'll blow your (explitive) brains out."

Solomona's lawyer, Mark J. Werksman, attacked that statement, claiming that there is no way that the mild-mannered Solomona could have said such a thing. As an LDS Church member, Solomona doesn't drink, and says he was calm that evening. "He's a very gentle, dedicated, kind and loving family man," said Werksman. "He never exhibited a violent temper. He has no criminal record."

Solomona, 49, has worked for 22 years at a Pepsi bottling plant, and has been married for 23 years. He coaches volleyball, is active in the Church and is a musician. He also has two grown children and a 4-year-old grandchild. He is a native of American Samoa who moved to California as a teenager.

The shooting touched off a debate in Southern California over gun control. The jury will begin deliberations in the case on Monday.


'The Gun Just Went Off'
Los Angeles Times 15Dec00 D2
By Richard Marosi: Times Staff Writer

Shooter calls death accidental
Orange co CA Register 15Dec00 D2
By Greg Hardesty: Orange County Register

Teen's slaying detailed at trial
Orange co CA Register 12Dec00 D2
By Greg Hardesty: Orange County Register

See also:

LDS Grandfather Who Shot Teen Charged With Murder

LDS man faces murder charges after killing pumpkin thief

911 Tapes of Shooting Over Pumpkin Theft Released


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Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information