LOS ANGELES (CNS) A gang member was convicted of first-degree murder today for gunning down a standout Los Angeles High School football player who was shot about 40 steps from his home.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Pedro Espinoza, 23, who killed 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw Jr. on March 2, 2008. A penalty phase of trial will begin Tuesday, with jurors being asked to recommend whether Espinoza should be sentenced to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Jurors deliberated for about four hours before reaching their verdict. The jury found true the special-circumstance allegation that Shaw's killing was carried out to further the activities of a criminal street gang, along with an allegation that Espinoza personally and intentionally discharged a handgun.
Prosecutors said Shaw was gunned down while walking home carrying a Spider-Man backpack, the red color of which made Espinoza perceive Shaw as a gang rival.
"We are here today because on March 2nd, 2008, he chose to take the life of Jamiel Shaw II,'' Deputy District Attorney Allyson Ostrowski told jurors during his closing argument, noting that the last thing the teenager heard before being shot in the abdomen and then in the head was the classic gang challenge, ``Where are you from?''
"It was a cold-blooded murder. It was an execution,'' the prosecutor said. Read more at KFI News