OAKLAND (CBS SF) — An Alameda County prosecutor told jurors today that a reputed gang member had the motive, means and opportunity to carry out a shooting in East Oakland three years ago that claimed the life of 3-year-old Carlos Nava and wounded two men.
In his closing argument in the trial of Lawrence Denard, 29, and co-defendant Willie Torrence, 25, prosecutor Ben Beltramo said Denard’s motive for the shooting outside a grocery store in a strip mall in the 6400 block of International Boulevard at about 1:10 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2011, is that he wanted to harm members of a rival gang.
Beltramo said Denard “declared his intent that very day” in two cellphone videos of him that he allegedly recorded less than an hour before
In the videos, he brandished two guns, said, “I’m a gangster, man,” and asserted that rival gang members were “soft.”
Beltramo said that Denard and Torrence, the alleged driver in the incident, are members of the 69th Village gang and the two men who were targeted and wounded in the shooting, 39-year-old Robert Hudson and Jerome Williams, are members of the rival 65th Village gang.
The two gangs operate out of housing complexes that are located between 65th and 69th avenues near the scene of the shooting, he said.
At the time of the shooting, Carlos was going to a neighborhood grocery with his mother, Maria Teresa Ramirez, and his older brother and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, Beltramo said.
The prosecutor alleged that ballistics evidence indicates that Denard fired 11 shots from a .40-caliber Glock pistol, which was one of the guns he was brandishing in the cellphone video.
However, the pistol was never found. Beltramo told jurors they can consider the missing gun as a circumstance that tends to show that Denard is conscious of his guilt.
Beltramo also alleged that Denard tried to intimidate witnesses in the case and said that’s another indication that Denard is conscious of his
Although Hudson and Williams were wounded in the shooting, they survived their injuries and testified in the trial of Denard and Torrence.
In addition to facing one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder, Denard and Torrence are accused of being ex-felons in possession of a firearm, discharging a gun from a vehicle and acting to benefit a criminal street gang.
Denard has prior convictions for grand theft and possession of a firearm by a felon and Torrence has a conviction on an illegal gun charge.
Lawyers for Denard and Torrence will present their closing arguments later today.
In her opening statement, Denard’s lawyer, Annie Beles, told jurors that Denard should be found not guilty because he didn’t commit the shooting and wasn’t in the area of the time.
Beles said witnesses who said that Denard was the shooter either aren’t credible or didn’t have a good view of the shooting. She also said that Denard isn’t a gang member.
Torrence’s lawyer, David Byron, said in his opening statement that there is “conflicting evidence” in the case and told jurors not to “jump to any conclusions” about the guilt of Torrence and Denard.
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