OAKLAND (CBS SF) — An ex-convict was found guilty of first-degree murder Wednesday for what a prosecutor said was the cold-blooded and heinous fatal shooting of a popular ice cream vendor in East Oakland two years ago.
Jurors deliberated for less than a full day before delivering their verdict against 25-year-old Joevan Lopez for the shooting death of Jasvir Singh, 45, in the 9300 block of Peach Street at about 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 3, 2015.
Lopez was calm when the verdict was announced but several of his family members cried and reacted emotionally, prompting extra bailiffs to come to the courtroom of Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay to maintain order.
Five members of Singh’s family who attended Lopez’s trial also quietly sobbed when the jury’s decision was disclosed.
Alameda County prosecutor Jimmie Wilson said Lopez faces a state prison term of 45 years to life when he’s sentenced by Clay on Jan. 12 because he also was convicted of discharging a firearm and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
Lopez was previously convicted of a felony charge of being an accessory to a crime after the fact on May 1, 2012, and of being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm on Dec. 3, 2013.
Wilson said in his closing argument on Tuesday that Lopez and a second suspect, 42-year-old Marty Lopez, who’s not related, didn’t hide their faces when they both shot Singh because they didn’t think anyone in the neighborhood would come forward to identify them as the perpetrators.
“To think that there would be no witnesses is pretty bold and cold-blooded,” Wilson said.
The prosecutor alleged that Joevan Lopez and Marty Lopez planned to rob Singh and that they shot him because they didn’t want to leave any witnesses.
Wilson said Singh, who was pronounced dead at the scene, had never done anything to harm the two men.
“By all accounts he was loved in that neighborhood and people there cared about him,” the prosecutor said.
Six witnesses who had prior contact with Joevan Lopez identified him as one of the shooters in the case, according to Wilson.
Joevan Lopez was arrested and charged in November 2015, about a month after Singh was killed.
As prosecutors prepared Lopez’s case for trial, they developed new information that connected Marty Lopez to the fatal shooting. Charges were filed against Marty Lopez on Oct. 23 and he will be prosecuted separately at a later date.
Wilson said six witnesses testified that Joevan Lopez was one of the shooters who killed Singh.
But Lopez’s defense attorney Darryl Billups told jurors that there was reasonable doubt in the case because when police showed Lopez’s photograph to the witnesses, they initially said they didn’t recognize him.
Billups said, “This is a whodunit” and “The real question is who is the shooter.”
He admitted that photographs taken from a friend’s cellphone prove that Lopez was near Singh’s ice cream truck at the time of the fatal shooting but said Lopez was in the back of the truck at the time, not in front of the truck where the shooting occurred.
Billups also said the prosecution failed to prove that Joevan Lopez and Marty Lopez actually robbed Singh, so he said Joevan Lopez couldn’t be convicted of murder under the felony murder rule.
However, Wilson said that jurors’ verdict shows that they believed that Joevan and Marty Lopez planned to rob Singh, even if they ultimately didn’t get away with any cash or property.
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