Crime - Sacto 911

Jurors get conflicting accounts of what suspect knew about deadly Natomas shooting

Opening arguments began Wednesday, June 22, 2016, at the Sacramento County Courthouse in the trial of the defendants accused of murder in the May 2014 shooting at a birthday party at Peregrine Park in Natomas that killed a man and wounded six other people, including a 7-year-old.
Opening arguments began Wednesday, June 22, 2016, at the Sacramento County Courthouse in the trial of the defendants accused of murder in the May 2014 shooting at a birthday party at Peregrine Park in Natomas that killed a man and wounded six other people, including a 7-year-old. lsterling@sacbee.com

What did he know and when did he know it?

The answers to those questions could convict Orlando Rhinehart on charges of murder and attempted murder for a deadly May 2014 Peregrine Park shooting that killed one and wounded six others.

Sacramento Superior Court jurors heard closing arguments Thursday before Judge Maryanne Gilliard in the case against Rhinehart, the third of three defendants in the chaotic May 10, 2014, shooting. Among the injured at the Natomas birthday party was a 7-year-old.

Two other jury panels were tasked with the fates of Avery Hill and Kelly Thomas, who are also facing murder and attempted murder charges in the shootings. Their verdicts will be sealed pending the outcome of Rhinehart’s trial.

He knew there was going to be a murder and did his best to facilitate it. He’s providing the intel they need to commit payback.

Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall

Rhinehart, 30, was not armed at Peregrine Park, but Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall on Thursday argued Rhinehart “put the fire and the gasoline together,” by aiding and abetting the ambush of high-rolling rival crew New Money at the Natomas park.

Thomas and Hill, both 24, are suspected in the attack that killed Jacoby James, 29, who was shot in the back. Kindall alleged the park shooting was payback for a February 2014 ambush of Thomas at his Arden Arcade-area apartment complex that was revenge for the April 2013 slaying of New Money leader Lawrence Smith, known as “M3,” in his Pocket-area apartment.

These are two sets of enemies. They are violent. They shoot each other. They kill each other. Why would Mr. Rhinehart stay at the park with his son?

Defense counsel Jeffrey Fletcher

New Money members believed Thomas and Hill were behind Smith’s shooting. Four members of the crew were wounded in the Peregrine Park shooting.

Kindall said Rhinehart called from a basketball court at the park to alert Hill and Thomas of the New Money birthday party for Lawrence Smith’s 1-year-old son in the picnic area.

“He knew there was going to be a murder and did his best to facilitate it,” Kindall told jurors of Rhinehart. “He’s providing the intel they need to commit payback.”

Rhinehart’s defense counsel Jeffrey Fletcher discounted the theory.

After six weeks of testimony from more than 80 witnesses, “the one thing you haven’t heard is evidence of what Mr. Rhinehart knew,” Fletcher told jurors.

“Not one single person made the inference that Orlando Rhinehart knew what was going to happen at the park,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher contended Rhinehart had no connection to New Money or Kelly Thomas and was never interviewed in connection with Lawrence “M3” Smith’s 2013 shooting or the suspected payback ambush at Thomas’ apartment complex the following February.

Fletcher also contended Rhinehart would not have brought his son to Peregrine Park that May day if he helped engineer the armed raid on the New Money crew: “These are two sets of enemies. They are violent. They shoot each other. They kill each other. Why would Mr. Rhinehart stay at the park with his son?”

But Kindall pointed to statements from witnesses at the park including Rhinehart’s young son who told police Rhinehart told him to “get in the car,” moments before the shots rang out.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith

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