Witnesses Take the Stand in Miguel Ranjel Trial

WILMINGTON -- The first witnesses took the stand Tuesday in the attempted murder trial of Miguel Ranjel.

Ranjel, an illegal immigrant, is charged with shooting Michael Harrell in the stomach and arm at the Carolina Cantina in December 2005.

Two waitresses who worked at the restaurant on the night of the shooting told the jury that Ranjel had tried to flirt with them, then became outraged when they rejected him.

Witness Lacey Morris said that Ranjel left, then returned and started talking with Harrell.

The two went to the bathroom. When Harrell came out, he told Morris that Ranjel had a gun and threatened to use it.

Ranjel's lawyer, Jennifer Harjo, told the jury that Ranjel was not guilty of attempted murder, because he was acting in self defense.

Ranjel was scared for his life, Harjo said.

Prosecutors maintained that Ranjel is guilty of attempted murder, because he planned the shooting. But Harjo claimed the shooting was the unfortunate result of a struggle between the two men.

Reported by Kacey Gaumer