San Leandro Marijuana Grower Accused In Murder-For-Hire Plot

OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A San Leandro marijuana grower has been charged with special circumstances murder and other crimes for allegedly hiring two people from Tennessee to kill a man in unincorporated Alameda County last July, sheriff’s officials said.

When 37-year-old Tikisha Upshaw was arrested last Thursday, detectives located a sophisticated and illegal marijuana grow at her home in San Leandro, sheriff’s officials said.

Upshaw is charged with murder, the special circumstance of committing a murder for financial gain and other offenses for the fatal shooting of 38-year-old Antioch resident Adan Farrid Katami on southbound Meekland Avenue at about 1 p.m. on July 13 as he was stopped while waiting to make a left turn onto Blossom Hill Road.

A gunman, later identified as Johnny Will Wright Jr., 46, of Memphis, got out of a red Jeep Wrangler, approached Katami and shot him multiple times at close range, according to the sheriff’s office.

Wright fled on foot down nearby railroad tracks. Deputies responded and shut down the intersection, where Katami was pronounced dead.

Sheriff’s deputies set up a perimeter, used dogs and a helicopter and reviewed surveillance footage to search for Wright, who was then arrested in front of 19352 Via Marlin in San Lorenzo a short time after the shooting, according to sheriff’s Deputy Nicholas Paxon.

Paxton wrote in a probable cause statement, “Wright’s distinctive shoes match those of the suspect depicted in the video surveillance” and multiple witnesses identified him as being the shooter.

Paxton said Chariott Burks, 25, also of Memphis, was arrested in the red Jeep Wrangler in front of 15960 Hesperian Blvd. in San Lorenzo, near the location where Wright was arrested.

Burks told deputies that the Jeep had been rented by Wright, her friend, according to Paxton.

Burks waived her rights and provided information to investigators that implicated herself in the murder of Katami, Paxton said.

Wright and Burks were charged with murder in July, but sheriff’s officials wanted to know why they came all the way from Tennessee to kill Katami.

Sheriff’s officials said their investigation showed that Upshaw and her associate Wessley Brown, 38, of Berkeley, hired Wright and Burks “specifically to kill Katami.”

Brown was arrested in Berkeley last Thursday, according to the sheriff’s office.

Upshaw and Brown were previously arraigned and were scheduled to appear in Alameda County Superior Court Wednesday to be assigned attorneys and possibly enter a plea, prosecutors said.

Wright and Burks are scheduled to return to court on Jan. 6 for a pretrial hearing.

In addition to murder, Wright is charged with the special circumstance of committing a murder by means of lying in wait.

He’s also charged with shooting at an occupied motor vehicle and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Prosecutors allege that Wright has three prior convictions dating back to 1999: aggravated assault, possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture and being a felon in possession of a firearm in a school zone.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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