A Northlander defending a murder charge told the court a fellow Tribesmen gang member was killed when a gun went off three times during a scuffle for the weapon.
Rawden Yates, 37, elected to give evidence at the conclusion of the Crown case this week in the High Court at Whangārei where his trial on one charge of murder is being held.
He is accused of shooting Kimble Moore, 48, twice in the back and once in the side in March 2016. Moore was reported missing from Taipa by his partner and his body was found buried in a shallow grave six months later in the Fairburn area.
Yates told the jury he and Moore went for a drive before dawn on March 17, 2016, to test the brakes in a car he had been using and to also retrieve a firearm not far away. Yates said he hid the firearm in bushes.
Yates said Moore picked up the firearm, loaded it, jumped back in the car, pointed it at Yates and told him to "f***** drive" where he was told to go.
Yates said Moore kept jabbing him on the side of his face with the barrel and that he expected to be killed.
He switched the car off from a hanging switch and while grabbing the firearm from Moore, Yates said, it somehow went off. He then put the weapon in the back seat.
Yates said he stopped a passing car and borrowed jumper leads, restarted the car, and drove off with Moore in the front passenger's seat.
On the way, Yates said he heard a rifle bolt and braked because he thought Moore might have the firearm. Yates said he then leaned over and tried to wrestle the firearm off Moore and that was when two more shots were fired.
"I didn't want to kill him. I just wanted to stop him from killing me."
During cross examination, Crown solicitor Mike Smith said Yates ended up shooting a man who tried to help him with cars, money and drugs when the accused got into trouble with Black Power.
Smith questioned why Yates did not seek help to transport Moore to the hospital from two motorists who provided the jumper leads.
"You don't do it because you are the one who's seriously hurt him. You don't do it because at all cost you're going to avoid contact with police," Smith said.
Closing addresses are likely to be tomorrow.