Mother of slain football star thinks Sacramento program could have saved her son
Sacramento prosecutors are investigating a drug suspect’s confession last year to the murder of Jaulon “J.J.” Clavo that was apparently ignored by Sacramento police, pushing the sentencing of the teen’s killer into October.
Keymontae Lindsey was to be sentenced Monday on first-degree murder in Sacramento in the 2015 car-side ambush that killed the 17-year-old Clavo and wounded one of his teammates as they returned to Grant Union High School hours before a football playoff game.
That was before a drug suspect’s confession to his girlfriend that he — not Lindsey — fired the shots that killed Clavo. The words reportedly relayed by the woman to a Sacramento police officer in 2018 surfaced just three days before Lindsey’s sentencing.
Lindsey’s sentencing now is set for Oct. 4 before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Sweet. Sacramento County district attorney’s officials are investigating, and Lindsey’s attorney is demanding answers, blasting Sacramento police on Monday.
“I found it astonishing that a Sacramento police officer takes what appears to be a confession and does nothing with it, or doesn’t bother to contact detectives on this case,” attorney Kevin Adamson said Monday.
“I’m not blaming the District Attorney’s Office. Here’s this patrol officer for Sacramento PD; here someone’s boyfriend is confessing to the crime. It’s enough to give to the detectives in our case,” Adamson continued. “Instead, it was ignored.”
Sacramento police spokesman Vance Chandler said late Monday afternoon he was awaiting more information from investigators.
The District Attorney’s Office is investigating the purported confession, Assistant Chief Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard said in a statement Monday afternoon.
“Regardless of the credibility of that claim, or lack thereof, our ethical obligations as prosecutors require the allegation be disclosed to the attorney representing Keymontae Lindsey and to the court,” Norgaard said. “Justice demands nothing less.”
The revelation is yet another setback for Jaulon’s mother, Nicole Clavo, who endured the long legal fight over whether Lindsey would be tried as a juvenile or an adult and fought a newly enacted state law that prevented prosecutors from trying young people under 16 as adults. Lindsey was 15 at the time of Clavo’s shooting.
Nicole Clavo took in Sweet’s verdict earlier this month that convicted Lindsey of first-degree murder in her son’s death, attempted murder in the wounding of teammate Malik Johnson and a charge of shooting into the car Clavo and teammates were driving when they were ambushed at an intersection near the Grant High campus.
She also learned that Lindsey could be released from juvenile custody as early as age 23, depending on how state corrections officials interpret newly amended sentencing statutes, district attorney’s officials said.
“I don’t know what justice really means,” Clavo told The Bee after Lindsey’s guilty verdict. “Nothing will justify my son’s death.”
Norgaard, in the Monday statement, said that it is “not unusual in the gang setting for individuals to claim responsibility for criminal conduct they have no connection to.”
Prosecutors alleged that Lindsey committed the shooting in service to the Strawberry Manor Bloods street gang, whose territory is North Sacramento.
Still, “that allegation has been and will continue to be investigated,” Norgaard said. “Keymontae Lindsay will only be sentenced on his convictions if the court is satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of his guilt.”
Meantime, a frustrated Adamson is also seeking answers.
Lindsey “wanted to be sentenced today. He wanted to start his sentence. But if there’s evidence out there of someone confessing to the crime, I have an ethical obligation to check it out,” Adamson said, adding, “It’s a mess. It would’ve been nice to find out about this in 2018.”