The trial of three men, one of them a former child actor in the 1990s ABC sitcom "The Hughleys," began Thursday in San Joaquin County, where the trio faces murder, attempted-murder and gang charges in connection with a 2011 stabbing at Chitiva's Bar and Grill.
Prosecutors say Dorjan "Dee Jay" Daniels, 23, and his friends Marcus McCliman, 26, and Djuane Nunley, 25, instigated a scuffle outside the waterfront building in the early morning hours of Aug. 26, 2011, that resulted in the fatal stabbing of 26-year-old John Joseph, also known as "J.J."
But defense attorneys will argue that it was Joseph and his group who initiated the fight, and the three out-of-towners were defending themselves after being beaten and robbed.
Daniels, of Fontana, was a child actor whose most notable role was as comedian D.L Hughley's son on "The Hughleys."
Daniels and Nunley, a rapper, aided and abetted in the brawl, prosecutors said. Prosecutors believe McCliman killed Joseph.
Deputy District Attorney Janet Smith said Nunley had been invited to the nightclub by a female bartender at Chitiva's.
Right away, the tattooed musicians stood out from the crowd, dressed in a different style from everyone else and flashing gang signs, Smith said.
After closing, Smith said, "J.J. was confronted by one of the defendants, and a fight was on."
Smith said one of the defendants continued punching Joseph as two of the victim's female friends loaded him in a car.
When they took him to a nearby apartment building, they realized he had been stabbed.
One of the women suffered a cut to her finger. The defendants are charged with her attempted murder.
Daniels, McCliman and Nunley were identified by people at the scene, Smith said.
Defense attorneys draw a different scenario, saying the incident was not gang-related and the defendants were not the ones starting trouble.
"This fight was about girls," Deputy Public Defender Jonathan Fattarsi said.
Fattarsi suggested the victim's group was jealous of the musicians.
He said McCliman, his client, saw his two buddies being attacked, and he reacted in their defense.
"I think the evidence will show these boys were beaten and robbed," Fattarsi said.
Nunley's attorney, John Panerio, said the defendants did stick out, because "they were clearly not from Stockton."
Panerio said his client was not around when the stabbing took place. He said Nunley had been knocked unconscious, and when he reappeared, he argued with his own friends for not defending him.
Panerio said Nunley then went to his truck to wait for his group. Eventually, he was arrested.
"And he's here today ready for trial," Panerio said.
McCliman's attorney, Lance Jacot, opted to reserve his statement for the end of the trial.
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