Dublin – An East Bay man identified as a murder suspect by his surname and corresponding physical characteristic – Red Beard – took the stand at his trial on Tuesday, and admitted in a shooting that it was self-defense.
R. Zacharias Grubbs, 47, testified as a defense witness after prosecutors put their case to rest against her in the fatal shooting of 35-year-old Andre Margen in 2018. Grubbs’ testimony covered events from his childhood to the aftermath of the shooting, which he said took place just a week after Margen robbed him at gunpoint.
Grubbs said he fired his pistol at Margen after Margen reached for his gun. During the cross-examination, prosecutors attempted to portray Grubbs as a vindictive drug dealer who made violent threats against others who crossed him.
“I grabbed (my gun) and shot him once,” Grubbs testified Tuesday afternoon, adding later, “I thought he was going to kill me.”
When Grubbs passed Margain and saw no gun in his hand, he panicked and threw his pistol at Chabot Lake, he said under oath. When the police told him about the days of the shooting, he not only denied it, but also told how well he knew Morgan and said that nothing significant happened on the day of shooting, June 7, 2018.
According to Grubbs, he and Margen were methamphetamine dealers in the San Leandro area who used the same source for their product. He said Margen followed him to a trailer park one day, jumped in his minivan, and pointed a gun at Grubbs, stealing a backpack containing drugs, cash, and a pistol. The fatal shooting occurred a week later, when Margen and Grubbs walked down the same street.
Grubbs said that Margen had a reputation as “a thug who robs people”, but he remained cordial with her anyway. The two “traded business” on occasion, he said.
“Unfortunately in that line of work you are doing business with people with those kinds of reputations on a somewhat regular basis,” Grubbs said. “It’s kinda inevitable.”
On the day of the shooting, Margen pulled up next to Grubbs in a motorcycle and threatened him, Grubbs testified. He said he tried to kill Margen by hitting him with a motorcycle, then tried to follow him, failing that.
At cross-examination, Deputy District Attorney Luis Marin began by asking whether he told People he was going to get “margins,” which Grubbs confirmed.
“And in less than a week you put a bullet in his head, right?” Marin asked.
“Yes,” Grubbs replied.
Next, Marin read back some text messages Grubbs sent another man six weeks before the shooting, when he was furious at being burned for a $500 drug debt. They included things like: “The million dollar question is an arm or a leg… I have no problem hurting people, you really did it (outrageously) this time… you’re playing with your life.” are.”
“Even after hearing all these things, do you still consider yourself a quiet person?” Marin asked
“I didn’t act on any of them, so yeah,” Grubbs said.
Margen was shot and killed on the 16000 block of Bayberry Lane in San Lorenzo. Witnesses told police that a man with a “very long red beard” was driving an Odyssey minivan and came close to Margain and opened fire, attacking not only Margain but also a house across the street.
According to a likely-cause statement written by an Alameda County sheriff’s detective, three informers appeared before police and claimed they knew of the murder. Two claimed that Grubbs took pains at Margaine for allegedly stealing a motorcycle from him, but the other claimed almost the opposite was true; That Grubbs was furious with a drug debt owed him and planned to take Margen’s motorcycle as compensation. The third informant, a woman, reportedly told police that Margaine was concerned that a “red beard” was out to get her.
Other evidence includes prison calls where Grubbs admitted he was in trouble, and that he was “(outrageously) up.” He also thanked a man for being a good friend, saying he didn’t expect to get out of jail, probably anytime.
When asked about those statements, Grubbs said he didn’t expect police to believe his self-defense story.