Jury delivers mixed verdicts in Valley High basketball player's murder case

Published: Thursday, Jun. 6, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Jun. 7, 2013 - 9:14 am

Assigned to pass judgment on a gang, the jury in the G-Mobb/Guttah Boys murder trial sifted through the evidence and returned individualized verdicts Wednesday against the four defendants charged in the case.

In its most important finding, the jury of 10 women and two men returned a second-degree murder conviction against the accused shooter, Al Henry Allen Sr., now 22.

The verdict came exactly three years to the day after the June 5, 2010, shooting death of one-time Valley High School basketball player D'andre Blackwell, 18, at a graduation party at an Elk Grove hotel.

The same panel, however, acquitted three other defendants of the most serious charges of murder and attempted murder. Jurors acquitted one of the three, Marquess Trevon Wilson, 19, of everything filed against him.

They convicted the other two defendants, Brandon Marcel Washington, 24, and Jahmal Vance Dawson, 20, of assault with a deadly weapon on two victims who were with Blackwell at the time of the shooting.

Jurors also determined that Allen, Dawson and Washington acted for the benefit of their street gang in the confrontation that broke out in a hallway at the Holiday Inn Express on West Stockton Boulevard.

Deputy District Attorney William Satchell declined to comment on the verdict.

Blackwell's mother sat quietly through the reading of the verdicts and nodded her appreciation to a couple of jurors as they filed out of the courtroom. She declined to be interviewed. Authorities said her son was not a member of a street gang but that the two friends he was with at the time of his death did belong to a gang.

An exchange of remarks between Blackwell and his two friends and the defendants' gang set off the shooting that took place in a stairwell after the hallway confrontation, authorities said.

Friends and family of the defendants alternately soared and swooned as the jury's results were announced.

Wilson and his connections wept with joy, and they profusely thanked his lawyer, Kevin Adamson, when it was all over. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White ordered Wilson released from his hold on all charges in the murder trial, but the teenager is serving a three-year term for his no-contest plea on an assault case he picked up while in custody. Wilson also is facing charges on a second in-custody assault, according to online court records.

"He's definitely relieved, that's for sure," Adamson said. "I think the jury had serious doubts if he was even there. He maintained all along that he wasn't. That was the chief difference between his case and the other three."

Supporters of Dawson and Washington could barely contain their elation when the jury acquitted the two on murder and attempted murder charges, but some of them shed tears with the reading of the assault convictions and the panel's affirmation of the gang allegations against them.

Dawson and Washington are likely to be sentenced to prison terms upward of 10 years when they are scheduled to see White again on July 12, according to Dawson's lawyer, James Warden. Allen is facing a 15-to-life term, plus an additional 25-to-life for his use of the gun under the state's "10-20-Life" sentencing law, plus substantial more time for his other convictions in the case, including two for attempted murder.

Three jurors who agreed to be interviewed after the verdicts on condition of anonymity said the group convicted Dawson and Washington based on evidence that put them in the hotel with the gang at the time of the shooting.

Dawson was depicted on a surveillance video walking into the Holiday Inn Express. Investigators also turned up a handprint of Washington's in the hotel.

The jurors said there was evidence that put Wilson at the shooting scene.

The jurors found in their conviction of Dawson and Washington that those two defendants – by their mere presence – participated in the assault on D'andre Blackwell's two gang-member friends. But in their acquittals, they said that just being there did not mean the two joined in the murder of Blackwell or the attempted murder of the other two.

Two of the jurors said they were not satisfied there was enough evidence to show an intent to kill on the part of Dawson and Washington. The third said, "You had to establish that they knew who had the guns. And we didn't think that, knowing a few people had them, wasn't sufficient that (they knew Allen) did."

They said they were confident the evidence showed Allen had a gun and used it, firing the single shot from a revolver into the hotel stairwell that fatally struck Blackwell.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.

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