L.A. man murdered boy on Halloween to retaliate against gang May 27, 2015 1:15:25 GMT
Post by Admin on May 27, 2015 1:15:25 GMT
POSTED BY JOHN SCHREIBER ON MAY 18, 2015
A prosecutor alleged Monday that a man accused in the Halloween killing of a 5-year-old boy in a Spider-Man costume was seeking retaliation against a rival gang, while a defense attorney argued that detectives pushed members of the victim’s family to identify her client as the shooter.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry closed the day by reading 12 pages of instructions to be followed as jurors begin deliberations tomorrow morning in the retrial of 26-year-old Leonard Hall Jr.
Two previous trials ended with deadlocked juries. The most recent mistrial was declared on Jan. 20, when jurors told Perry they were split 10-2, with the majority favoring a guilty verdict.
The first jury to hear the case deadlocked 9-3 in March 2013, with the majority in favor of guilt.
Hall is charged with murdering Aaron Shannon Jr. and trying to kill the boy’s grandfather and uncle, who were wounded in their back yard in the 1000 block of East 84th Street in South Los Angeles about 2 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2010.
Deputy District Attorney Sarika Kim said Hall was a gang member who went by the nickname “Baby Skull.” Kim told jurors that both Hall and his father had previously been shot by members of a rival gang and that an older gang member had told Hall to “scope out the territory.”
Kim said Hall and another alleged gang member, Marcus Denson, went into rival territory in the midst of a gang war and passed behind the family’s back yard. Hall stopped in the alley and circled back once they’d passed the yard, returning to shoot the boy and his two relatives, who had no gang affiliations, Kim alleged.
Four witnesses — an accomplice and the boy’s grandfather, uncle and a family friend — identified Hall as the gunman and corroborated details of the shooting, Kim said. The child’s father said he could not pick out the shooter from the photos he was shown by police.
“There’s no question in this case … that this is a first-degree murder,” the prosecutor said. “He fires (the gun) again and again and again. He hit three out of the five people in that yard.”
Denson was charged along with Hall and earlier pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and two counts of attempted murder. He told police when he was arrested that Hall was with him in the alley behind the boy’s house and was the gunman.
Defense attorney Carol Ojo said the prosecution’s case rests on those eyewitnesses because there is “absolutely no physical or forensic evidence” of her client’s alleged involvement.
Her client sat quietly throughout the day of closing arguments, dressed in an argyle sweater vest and dark slacks, taking notes that he often shared with his attorney.
Noting the LAPD held a news conference the day after the shooting, Ojo said “the police were under pressure” to solve the high-profile case. One detective in particular “overstepped his bounds,” and guided witnesses, uncertain and shaken in the wake of the shooting, to pick Hall’s face out of a photo array of suspects, Ojo told jurors.
“He went to the witnesses with one goal in mind: to get each and every witness to identify Leonard Hall,” Ojo said, calling the eyewitnesses “tainted.”
Ojo said Denson, who is awaiting sentencing, was “a liar, a thief and a manipulator” who originally told a friend that he was in the neighborhood with two other men before the shooting.
One of those men was detained by police because he matched the description of the shooter and was identified by another witness as running from the scene, but police ruled him out without including him in any photo array or line-up, Ojo said.
In her rebuttal, the deputy district attorney urged jurors not to “accept Ms. Ojo’s invitation to speculate,” telling the panel that the defense attorney would have them believe that all four witnesses who identified Hall were co-conspirators.
Kim suggested it was more reasonable to believe that the friend Denson talked to about who he was with that day “made a mistake.”
“Are they all conspiring or is it possible she got it wrong?” Kim asked the panel.
The prosecutor acknowledged that Denson was not “a choir boy” and had “lied about his involvement,” but said jurors didn’t have to believe him in order to be convinced that Hall was the killer.
Showing a close-up of the 5-year-old victim’s face and another photo of him posing as his favorite superhero, Kim said, “This young man and his family are due justice, past due justice.”
Ojo urged jurors not to let sympathy for the victim sway their view of the evidence.
“We’re not looking for vengeance,” the defense attorney told the jury. “We are looking for justice.”
Hall is charged with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder, along with gang and gun allegations.
— City News Service