A prosecutor said Tuesday that the four defendants in the barbershop murder trial launched “urban warfare” the day a mother was killed by a stray bullet while protecting her 2-year-old son.
Deputy District Attorney Valerie Brown showed the pictures of the defendants and listed the weapons they brought to Fly Cuts & Styles on Dec. 14, 2010, the day their gunfight resulted in the death of Monique Nelson, 30.
Lonnie Orlando Mitchell Jr., 27, had an AK-47 assault rifle and a TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun, while his brother Louis James Mitchell, 22, was armed with a .45 pistol. On the other side of the gunfight, James Leo Carney III, 35, had a .38 handgun and his friend Larry Dean Jones Jr., 32, carried a .40 pistol in his pants.
Investigators say it was a bullet from Carney’s gun that killed Nelson. Brown told the Sacramento Superior Court jury Tuesday that the other three defendants aided and abetted him and that all are guilty of first-degree murder.
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“They brought their battle to the streets of Sacramento 11 days before Christmas at 1 o’clock in the afternoon,” Brown said.
The four also are facing charges in the shootings of four other innocent bystanders who were injured by stray bullets.
No charges were filed in the death of Marvion Barksdale, 20, and the shooting of a friend of his, Dominique Marcell Lott, 31, both of whom participated in the shootout, authorities said.
The prosecution theory of the case is that Louis Mitchell robbed a friend of Barksdale a week before the shooting. When the Mitchell brothers showed up at the barbershop on Stockton Boulevard the day of the shooting, defendant Jones, who was inside, called Carney, who in turn called Barksdale, right before the two of them converged on the shooting site.
Brown told the jury, “Let’s not lose sight of why we’re here.”
Monique Nelson, the DA said, simply took her boy to a photo store in the same strip mall as the barbershop for Christmas pictures when the firefight broke out.
“She had no way of knowing a perfect storm was brewing,” Brown said.
According to the prosecutor, the Mitchells set the day’s events into motion when they showed up in the barbershop heavily armed and began acting aggressively – “chumming the waters,” Brown called it – in hope of drawing out Barksdale.
“They go in with their artillery, and they get exactly what they want,” Brown told the jury.
Jones, Carney and the Mitchell brothers “joined up to do battle,” she said of the defendants. “They are encouraging each other, they are instigating each other, they are promoting, they are aiding and abetting.
“Here, without the Mitchells, it wouldn’t have happened, and without Carney and Jones, it wouldn’t have happened.”
Jones’ attorney, Mike Wise, was the only member of the defense side who began his closing argument Tuesday.
Wise said his client had nothing to do with the robbery incident that started the trouble between Barksdale and Louis Mitchell, who at one time were friends.
“Remember, Mr. Jones shot nobody,” Wise said to the jury.
All he did was fire a couple of rounds into the wall, after the Mitchells had shot back into the barbershop and wounded four people, according to the lawyer.
Wise was more definitive on the Mitchells’ actions inside the barbershop, mainly those of older brother Lonnie, who the defense lawyer said was stomping around the place, rapping out threats that Wise said were intended for Jones. Wise said Lonnie Mitchell wore his TEC-9 around his neck. The lawyer theorized that Mitchell mistook Larry Jones for a friend of Barksdale’s.
Attorneys for the other three defendants will give their closing arguments on Wednesday.