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Man Pleads Innocent to Dueling Death

Associated Press

An enlisted Navy man pleaded innocent to a rare felony charge of dueling in the fatal shooting of another man that prosecutors describe as something straight out of the Wild West.

“It sounds astonishing, even revolting, that this sort of thing would happen in this day and age,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Thomas Nickel. “But essentially, one guy called the other up and said, ‘This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.’ ”

Vernon Isip, 39, of National City pleaded innocent Friday to the dueling charge. It stems from his alleged July 12 shoot-out with Bayani Zuniga, 42, also of National City, who died of wounds to the head and abdomen. Isip suffered abdomen, arm and leg wounds from which he has recovered.

Authorities say the alleged duel was over a woman and was prearranged. Though both men were married, the unidentified woman involved was not the wife of either, Nickel said. “It sounds very weird but this was what they thought was the noble, gentlemanly thing to do. They wanted to have it out face to face.”

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Court researchers say this could wind up as San Diego County’s first dueling case in the 20th Century.

Prosecutors took several months to file because of the rarity of the charge and the difficulty in finding witnesses. “This incident also placed in severe danger a large number of innocent persons, including children, who happened to be nearby during a balmy summer evening in which nearly 15 shots were fired,” Nickel said.


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