Crime - Sacto 911

Defendant in gang killing takes manslaughter plea

A man accused in a gang killing that resulted in two mistrials in the murder charges filed against him Thursday pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to the three years he has already served in jail.

Marquis Pierre Young, 32, was expected to walk out of the downtown jail Thursday as a result of the plea worked out between his attorney, Frances Huey, and the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office and approved by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Allen H. Sumner.

Prosecutors decided they will retry a second defendant in the case, Allen Wayne Benzler, 21. Authorities named Benzler as the gunman in the April 17, 2011, shooting death of Jesse Fowler, 29, outside Warners Rendezvous Lounge near Florin Road and Highway 99 in south Sacramento.

Judge Sumner scheduled Benzler’s retrial for Aug. 5.

Both defendants were acquitted of first-degree murder charges in a verdict returned last Thursday. Jurors voted 9-2-1 to convict Young of second-degree murder and 7-5 to convict Benzler.

Young was prosecuted as an aider and abettor on accusations that he provided Benzler with his gun just before the shooting. His case first went to trial last year, but his initial jury could not reach a verdict. Its vote was 9-3 to convict.

“It’s a tough case, and we feel that he’s responsible for aiding and abetting, and he was willing to admit his level of culpability as a voluntary manslaughter,” Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard, the office’s homicide supervisor, said of the decision to offer Young the plea deal. “Given the results of the first two trials, that seemed to be the just outcome.”

Huey could not be reached for comment.