OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Two men were ordered to stand trial on a murder charge for the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old woman in Oakland’s Fruitvale district in July 2014.
At the end of a preliminary hearing for Dwight Bradford, 24, and Jermaine Godfrey, 37, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Rhonda Burgess admitted “there are a lot of problems with this case” and that it might be “difficult” for prosecutors to get murder convictions for the two men.
But Burgess said she believes prosecutors produced sufficient evidence at the hearing to have Bradford and Godfrey stand trial on a murder charge for the shooting death of Ayana Dominguez and an attempted murder charge for the gunshot wounds that were inflicted on her boyfriend.
Oakland police homicide Lt. Roland Holmgren said Dominguez and her boyfriend were in a drive-thru lane at a Wendy’s fast food restaurant in the 3100 block of International Boulevard near Fruitvale Avenue at about 8:45 p.m. on July 10, 2014, when their car was “riddled with bullets.”
Dominguez was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly after the shooting but her boyfriend survived his gunshot wounds.
Holmgren said police believe Dominguez wasn’t the intended target in the shooting but declined to name the person who investigators think was the target.
The shooting had gone unsolved for more than a year until Bradford and Godfrey were arrested and charged in the summer of 2015.
Prosecutors allege that Bradford is the suspect who shot Dominguez and her boyfriend and that Godfrey was his accomplice.
Prosecutors also say that Godfrey has two prior convictions for the sale and transportation of a controlled substance.
Godfrey’s attorney, Ernie Castillo, and Bradford’s attorney, Michal Tal, both asked Burgess to exclude the testimony of a woman who was the prosecution’s key witness in the hearing because the woman refused to answer their questions when they tried to cross-examine her.
Burgess admitted that the woman was “a hostile and recalcitrant witness” but said she would allow her testimony to be included in the record because she refused to answer questions from both the prosecution and the defense and only responded to questions directly connected to her interview with police nearly a year after the shooting.
Castillo and Tal both said they don’t think there’s enough evidence to have their clients stand trial on murder and attempted murder charges.
Bradford and Godfrey are scheduled to return to court on June 20 to have their trial date set.
Dominguez graduated from the Berkeley Technology Academy in June 2014, a month before she was killed, and had interned at the Association of Bay Area Governments in Oakland in a program aimed at helping underserved youth develop work skills.
At a news conference near the shooting scene on June 15, 2015, at which police asked for people to come forward to help them find the suspects responsible for Dominguez’s death, her mother, Autumn Blueford, said, “She was a very sweet human being who touched a lot of people’s lives.”
Blueford said, “She had a lot of ambition and wanted to be a cosmetologist but all her dreams were shattered when she was shot.”
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