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Can’t Identify Gunmen, Dunphy Testifies : Trial Opens for Three Accused of Shooting TV Newsman in 1983

Times Staff Writers

Television newscaster Jerry Dunphy took the stand Monday as the first witness in the trial of three men accused of shooting him in 1983 as he sat with a friend in his car near KABC-TV’s studios in Hollywood.

However, Dunphy said that he could not identify the assailants who pulled alongside his Rolls-Royce in an Oldsmobile at a stop sign at Prospect Avenue and Talmadge Street.

Gregory Chapman, 18, Frederick Cole, 23, and Joseph Mark Lee, 21, all of Los Angeles, are charged with attempted murder in what police described as a bungled robbery attempt. A fourth man who said he was in the Oldsmobile, Raymond Dee Johnson, 22, was granted immunity from prosecution and is expected to testify at the trial.

Dunphy, 63, and Sandra Marshall, 36, a makeup artist whom he married in January, were both wounded in the attack.

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Wearing a cast on his left arm where he was shot, Dunphy said the shooting was preceded by a threat from someone in the car who shouted, ‘Don’t move, you dirty sons of bitches.’ ”

Dunphy, who also was wounded in the neck by a bullet, testified that he saw three weapons pointing toward him.

“I turned to Miss Marshall and said, ‘My God, I think they’re serious,’ ” he said.

As he turned back toward the men, Dunphy continued: “I saw the flash of fire and from what I could distinguish, the popping of guns. . . . And I was hit.

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“The best way that I can describe how I felt was numb.”

When the shots rang out, Dunphy said, his foot hit the accelerator and his car lurched forward, jumped a curb, bounced off a tree and crashed into a nearby house.

As a result of the attack, Dunphy said, he now has limited use of his left arm, making such tasks as typing difficult.

Marshall was hit in her right arm by a bullet. She also suffered a fractured jaw, a punctured eardrum and a neck injury from the resulting car crash.

In his opening statement, Deputy Dist. Atty. Dennis Choate said that evidence at the trial will show that Chapman had a .45-caliber handgun, Cole had a .22-caliber handgun and Lee was driving the Oldsmobile. Johnson, Choate said, did not shoot.

Other Robbery Attempts

Choate charged that the defendants happened upon Dunphy during a night in which they also tried to rob several other people.

The men, he said, had told others they “wanted to go out and, quote, ‘make some money,’ ” on the night of the incident.

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Defense attorneys declined to make opening statements.

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