Several hours after he threw a drunken punch that contributed to a Twin Cities businessman's death, Jonathan Rubio-Segura awoke in a Hennepin County jail cell, unaware of where he was or what he had done.
An investigator told him that Anthony Gale, felled by Rubio-Segura's unprovoked strike on a downtown Minneapolis sidewalk at 3 a.m. March 26, 2010, was hospitalized on oxygen and may not survive. The 25-year-old pharmaceutical worker broke down in tears and begged the Minneapolis police sergeant to tell Gale he was sorry, that he didn't mean it.
"Please, please, please tell him that," Rubio-Segura sobbed.
Rubio-Segura's punch, thrown on a night he got so drunk he allegedly blacked out, may have been a fatal mistake, but he's not a killer, defense attorney Robert Kolstad told a jury Tuesday in opening statements of Rubio-Segura's second-degree murder trial.
Prosecutors maintain Rubio-Segura's actions are anything but an accident. They said a surveillance camera shows him looking both ways for potential witnesses before he delivered the first blow.
"You will come to the conclusion that this is not just a stupid thing done by someone who was drunk," Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Daniel Homstad said. "You will come to the conclusion that what this is, is murder."
The initial punch sent Gale, hands in his pockets, reeling backward, causing him to strike his head on the concrete and knocking him unconscious.
As a pool of blood began to spread around Gale's head, Rubio-Segura allegedly shook off an intervening bystander, Homstad said, and jumped Gale and hit him again in the face, causing him to convulse as his feet jerked off the ground.
Gale, 37, died 12 days later from the massive head injury. He was chief financial officer of New York Mint, a collectible coin business in Edina.
Rubio-Segura also faces lesser charges of manslaughter and first-degree assault. District Judge Daniel Mabley told the jury that voluntary intoxication is not a defense, but that it is possible for someone to be so intoxicated that he or she doesn't know right from wrong.
Rubio-Segura, tall and lean with close-cropped curly hair, looked on during opening statements. Gale's family members sat in the front of the otherwise empty courtroom. Some paused to wipe their eyes when Homstad described how their son and brother took a turn for the worse and eventually died while in a medically induced coma.
The surveillance videotape, from Augie's Bourbon Street Cabaret on a popular stretch of Hennepin Avenue at the intersection of 5th Street, captures the entire incident. The strip club is in the heart of a focus area for police because of its many bars and restaurants and the light-rail platform.
The footage centers on the actions of Rubio-Segura, a Washburn High graduate who moved to Utah and became a Mormon before returning to Minnesota. He worked at Bell Pharmaceuticals.
Kolstad told the jury that Rubio-Segura finished his shift and drank tequila in the parking lot with a co-worker. He bought a case of beer and headed to St. Paul, where he drank and smoked marijuana. Kolstad said his client barely remembers returning to Minneapolis and drinking in a bar, where a witness told police Rubio-Segura was a "10 out of 10" on a scale of drunkenness.
The footage shows him crossing paths with Gale, who was staying at the Chambers Hotel a few blocks away while work was being done on his Minneapolis home. Gale had dinner with a friend earlier, and the two parted ways about midnight. He was likely out having a smoke when the two crossed paths.
The videotape shows Gale and Rubio-Segura shaking hands, then embracing and chatting for several minutes while two of Rubio-Segura's friends caught up. They parted ways before Rubio-Segura turned and delivered the blows. Police said last year they couldn't confirm a witness account that he became angry after Gale turned down a request for cab fare.
A friend pulled him off Gale and they took off. Rubio-Segura was arrested nearby.
According to charges, he repeated "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" upon his arrest. Kolstad said that prior to the charges, his client had nothing more than a speeding ticket on his criminal record. He remains in the Hennepin County jail in lieu of $750,000 bail.
"The evidence may show Mr. Rubio-Segura played a role in Mr. Gale's death," Kolstad said. "But he's not a murderer."
Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday.
Abby Simons • 612-673-4921