A man on trial for attempted murder got the chance to tell his side of the story in Montgomery County Circuit Court on Wednesday.
Dmytro Solomatin, 26, of Reston, Va., is accused of firing a shot toward another man, Michael Rickley of Germantown, after an argument over an available gas pump escalated into a fistfight at Freestate gas station on Aug. 6.
Solomatin took the stand Wednesday, providing an alternate view of what happened, claiming that Rickley was the aggressor and continued to make verbal threats after the physical fight ended. He said he retrieved a 9 mm handgun from his silver Infiniti in an act of self-defense, in order to scare Rickley off.
"I was terrified. I was scared,” Solomatin said. “I thought he was going to kill me."
Solomatin said he intentionally fired a shot at the tire of Rickley’s Volkswagen Rabbit.
"My intention was to make sure I was safe, make sure he couldn't injure me and follow me back tomy parents' house to where my pregnant wife was," Solomatin said.
He said he left the scene, went back to his parents’ house to clean up the blood from his bleeding nose and cut lip, and went to the police station with the intention of pressing assault charges against Rickley.
In less than an hour, Solomatin was arrested and detained for the shooting, according to court testimony. Charges were not filed against Rickley.
Solomatin was indicted Aug. 25 for second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault; two counts of reckless endangerment; and other weapons offenses.
Police testimony Wednesday provided further details about the evidence they collected during the investigation — what jurors will have to rely on Thursday in order to determine whether Solomatin is guilty of second degree attempted murder.
Detective Patricia Poulos, who is with Montgomery County Police forensic services, said a casing, a bullet fragment in the tire and “good sized" droplets of blood were collected as evidence at the scene. Prior testimony suggested the blood was from the fistfight.
Despite searching Solomatin’s car and searching a field in Kentlands on three separate occasions, police were unable to recover the gun Solomatin is seen firing in the gas station surveillance footage.
Fairfax County Police also executed a search of Solomatin’s apartment in Reston but were unable to find the gun.
Solomatin said he left the gun on the dining room table of his parents’ Germantown home.
“I have not seen it since,” Solomatin testified.
Assistant state's attorney Eric Nee questioned why Solomatin didn't drive away after the fight and tried to discredit Solomatin's claim that he shot at the tire intentionally. Or as assistant state's attorney Douglas Wink suggested, Solomatin was embarrased after the fight and wanted to "make the other guy sorry."
Solomatin's attorney Scott Rolle said he didn't think there was enough evidence to show Solomatin intended to shoot and kill Rickley.
The prosecution and defense are expected to deliver their closing arguments Thursday.