Earlanda Augusta knew. She saw her son flash money and spend it on new clothes. He picked up dinner checks when he didn't have a job. She knew the cash was dirty, and when she questioned him about it, he admitted he made his money selling weed.
Augusta understood. A year or so earlier, she copied a hundred résumés for her boy and helped him hand them out to just about every business along Fruitridge Road. None brought back a job offer.
Augusta answered the knock on her door at 4 a.m. last Aug. 26. It was the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. They told her there had been a homicide, that her son, Adrian Augusta, 20, had been shot and killed in a pot robbery on the street.
"I fell in the doorway, to my knees," Earlanda Augusta said, when told of her son's death. He had been shot in the back when he tried to run from a gunman in an arranged 12:59 a.m. meeting at 37th Avenue and 44th Street in unincorporated south Sacramento.
On Wednesday, prosecution and defense attorneys delivered their closing arguments to a Sacramento Superior Court jury in the special-circumstance murder trial of Devenne Marquist Rodriguez, 27.
Rodriguez is accused of fatally shooting Augusta and stripping off the dead man's clothes in search of loot, then leaving him partially naked and dead in the gutter.
Deputy District Attorney Sheri Greco described Rodriguez as broke and bent on robbery. She said Rodriguez used a 15-year-old girl he'd been drinking and smoking pot with to set up Augusta.
A steady stream of cellular communications made up the bulk of the prosecution's case. In one exchange after the shooting, the girl texted an allusion to Rodriguez's failure to return from the rendezvous with some "tree," or marijuana. A six-gram bag of pot was found near Augusta's body, according to the evidence at trial.
Although he didn't find the pot, Rodriguez texted back, "We got sumthin" for the effort Augusta's cellphone, according to Greco. She said Rodriguez's response amounted to an "adoptive admission" of culpability.
Rodriguez's phone records damned him as much as anything, the DA told the jury. She said they showed a call from Augusta to Rodriguez at 12:56 a.m. three minutes before paramedics were dispatched to the shooting.
"A high-risk, unlawful, dangerous activity yes," Greco said of Augusta's marijuana sales. "But the very nature of the activity he was engaging in made him a perfect target. It made him a perfect target for a setup by (Rodriguez)."
Defense attorney Frances Huey argued that somebody else killed Augusta. She said her client was only out to buy some pot but that a mystery man along for the ride whom Huey identified only as "Serge" jumped out of their car during the meetup and fatally shot Augusta. Rodriguez, fearing for his own life, ran home, Huey told the jury.
"It was something he couldn't control," Huey said.
Sitting in the back of Judge Allen H. Sumner's courtroom, Earlanda Augusta listened to the arguments and shared a tearful hug afterward with the prosecutor. She said in an interview her son's life should not be defined by the indignity of his death.
"My son was definitely very well-loved and very caring," Augusta said. "We called him 'Gramps' because he has a whole demeanor about himself. He didn't party. He didn't hang out. He was kind of always at home, a homebody, especially for being 20."
She said her son sang in the choir of Century Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church and toured out-of-state with its youth organization. She said he was a volunteer with the Sacramento START after-school program, where she works one of her two jobs. Adrian's dad also works as a computer technician, Earlanda Augusta said.
But their boy, a Luther Burbank High School graduate, could never break into the job market, his mother said.
"We made about 100 copies of his résumé, and we went up and down the streets where we live off Fruitridge, to the various stores, every local business, insurance agencies, holding signs, fast food McDonald's, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell all of them," she said. "Just nothing."
Earlanda Augusta said she kept hounding her son to find work, that "you've got to have your own money."
Soon enough, she said, she saw him spending way beyond the pocket money she and his grandmothers and godmothers slipped him.
Adrian denied it at first but eventually copped to being a pot dealer.
"He said to me, 'Mom, what am I going to do?' " Earlanda Augusta said. " 'You need help around the house. You can't continue to pay my bills, buy me clothes. I can't find a job.' So I put the threatening out there 'If you're going to sell drugs, you can't live in my house.'
"But if I kick him out, what the heck is he going to get into? And where is he going to live? And he really doesn't know how to live on his own yet. And then he's 19, turning 20, so how do you control what they do at that age?"
Earlanda Augusta said plenty of higher-level dealers in places like south Sacramento advance marijuana, for no money down, to young men like her son, Adrian, who sometimes pay for it with their lives.