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Jury selection begins in federal marshal's off-duty killing of man in 2008

Jury selection begins in federal marshal's off-duty killing of man in 2008
This video frame from a surveillance camera shows a confrontation between off-duty Deputy U.S. Marshall Matthew Itkowitz, left, and Ryan Gonzalez on March 5, 2008, in an alley off Melrose Avenue. Gonzalez was shot and killed during the confrontation.

Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of a deputy U.S. marshal charged in the 2008 off-duty slaying of a man who intervened in a fight between the lawman and his wife.

Matthew Itkowitz was indicted on federal civil rights and obstruction of justice charges in the fatal shooting of Ryan Gonzalez in an alleyway in the Fairfax area.

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County prosecutors had earlier declined to file charges against the deputy marshal, saying they had insufficient evidence despite security camera footage they concluded was "patently inconsistent" with Itkowitz's account of the shooting.

Itkowitz and his wife were walking home after drinking at a bar in March 2008 when the couple got into an argument, according to court papers filed by federal prosecutors. After Itkowitz allegedly struck his wife, she screamed for help and ran toward a group of people, including Gonzalez, standing outside a tattoo parlor, prosecutors alleged.

Gonzalez, who worked at the tattoo parlor, confronted Itkowitz, resulting in an altercation that ended with Itkowitz firing shots. Gonzalez was shot five times, including twice in his back, according to federal prosecutors.

Itkowitz claimed to his supervisor and Los Angeles police detectives that he fired while being attacked and that Gonzalez had a weapon pointed at him. However, the video footage, which has been reviewed by The Times, shows the shooting occurred about a minute after the men exchange blows and after the two men walked away from one another.

The deputy marshal "waited for [Gonzalez] with his hand near his weapon, concealed behind his right leg," federal prosecutors alleged in a trial memo. "Once Gonzalez closed the distance between the two men, [Itkowitz] pulled his weapon and began shooting."

Prosecutors alleged that Itkowitz "chased" Gonzalez with his gun drawn as the other man ran away, stumbling, after being shot. Prosecutors wrote that the video footage also captured Itkowitz returning to the alley and removing two items from the ground before police and emergency personnel arrived.

The trial, in which prosecutors said they would be showing jurors the video and calling Itkowitz's ex-wife to the witness stand, is expected to last about a week.

For more Los Angeles news, follow @vicjkim

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