OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The defense lawyer for a reputed gang member who is accused of firing the shot that killed 3-year-old Carlos Nava in East Oakland three years ago alleged Wednesday that the prosecutor, a police officer and key witnesses are lying about the evidence in the case.
In her closing argument in the trial of Lawrence Denard, 29, and co-defendant Willie Torrence, 25, Annie Beles, who represents Denard, told jurors that the evidence presented by Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Ben Beltramo is “all a fiction, a yarn that the prosecution has spun for you.”
Beles also said Oakland police Sgt. Steven Nowak “didn’t reflect what truly happened” when he interviewed Robert Hudson, one of the victims in the case.
In addition, Beles said a prosecution witness who identified Denard as the shooter in the incident in the 6400 block of International Boulevard at about 1:10 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2011, is “a gun-toting, lying person who wasn’t even where he said he was at the time of the shooting.”
Beles said the statements by that witness and Hudson indicating that Denard was the shooter aren’t reliable and Denard should therefore be found not guilty.
Referring to what she said is a lack of evidence that Denard was the shooter, Beles said, “If it ain’t him, he shouldn’t be convicted. That’s what justice mandates.”
Beltramo alleged in his closing argument that Denard and Torrence, the alleged driver in the incident, belong to the 69th Village gang in East Oakland and were targeting Hudson and Jerome Williams, who he said are members of the nearby 65th Village gang.
Hudson and Williams were wounded in the shooting but survived their injuries and testified in the trial.
One of the stray bullets that was fired in the shooting struck and killed 3-year-old Carlos, who Beltramo said was going to a neighborhood grocery with his mother and his older brother and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Beltramo said ballistics evidence indicates that Denard fired 11 shots from a .40-caliber Glock pistol, which was one of two guns he was brandishing in a cellphone video that he recorded an hour before the shooting. However, the gun was never found.
Beles alleged today that the Oakland Police Department rushed to arrest suspects in the shooting because it was “desperate to get someone” because of the community’s outrage over Carlos’ death.
Nowak testified during the trial that police treated the shooting like any other homicide in Oakland but Beles said, “That’s not common sense, that’s not believable.”
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.
Torrence’s lawyer, David Byron, will give his closing argument later today and then Beltramo will present his rebuttal argument. Jurors were expected to begin deliberating at some point on Thursday.
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