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Published November 01, 2012, 02:31 PM

ATTEMPTED MURDER TRIAL: Prosecutor Presses Samshal in Morning Testimony

A prosecutor pressed Travis Samshal this morning to explain why he kept hanging out with his roommate who Samshal said posed such a threat to his safety that he fired a bullet from his hunting rifle past his shoulder Dec. 14.

By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald

A prosecutor pressed Travis Samshal this morning to explain why he kept hanging out with his roommate who Samshal said posed such a threat to his safety that he fired a bullet from his hunting rifle past his shoulder Dec. 14.

In the fourth day of his trial on attempted murder and reckless endangerment charges, Samshal was cross-examined by Jason McCarthy, assistant state’s attorney for Grand Forks County.

Samshal, 27, and his former roommate, Leo Franco, both have testified they went hunting Dec. 13 west of Grand Forks, then spent six hours or more drinking in city bars before drinking more in their kitchen in the early hours of Dec. 14.

Samshal admits he fired his rifle toward Franco because his roommate wouldn’t stay out of his room and had beat him up three weeks earlier, making him fear for his own safety. But he testified he missed him on purpose, to scare him. He said Franco’s behavior for months included sexual advances and made him feel “violated,” and “awkward.”

“You willingly went hunting with your armed violator,” McCarthy asked Samshal.

“Yes,” Samshal said.

Franco didn’t assault him or violate him during the hours they spent together before the shot was fired, did he, McCarthy pressed Samshal., who answered, “No.”

Had he ever reported Franco’s alleged threatening behavior to police or his landlord, McCarthy asked.

“No,” Samshal said. “I didn’t even tell my family. I didn’t tell anyone . . .It was embarrassing.”

Samshal’s step-b rother, Ben Largis, and his step-father, Wesley Largis, testified to seeing extensive injuries to Samshal’s face after a Thanksgiving fight with Franco on a street in Red Lake Falls, Minn.

They said Samshal never had been physically aggressive but had been bullied as a youth because of his small size.

Samshal testified Wednesday he feared for his life Dec. 14 when he fired at Franco, largely because of being beaten by him at Thanksgiving.

Franco, 35, testified Tuesday he, too, was injured by Samshal during their fist-fight and he denied the allegations of making advances toward his roommate, saying in his Cuban culture men show affection to each other more than people in the Grand Forks area. Testimony is expected to be completed today and the jury should begin deliberating by Friday.

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