Pablo (king_cool_paul) wrote,

What an Unfortunate Story... and Name

Someone on my friends list steered me to this story, but I can't for the life of me remember who it was. So sorry.

The actual story is available here, but I've hidden it behind the cut as well, just in case.

3:52 p.m. March 30, 2006
SAN DIEGO – A former military marksman was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old man in southeast San Diego, but a jury deadlocked on the culpability of a teenage co-defendant.

After 3½ days of deliberations, jurors convicted Lawrence Christopher Smith, 25, of shooting Dom Perignon Champagne from his car the afternoon of Nov. 26, 2004.

Smith was also convicted of attempted murder for pumping three shots into a drug dealer who owed him money on Sept. 12, 2004, and possession of marijuana for sale.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 27.

But jurors told Judge Larrie Brainard that they were hopelessly deadlocked on the counts against Jimmy Lopez, Smith's then-16-year-old passenger at the time of the shooting.

An April 7 hearing was scheduled to determine if prosecutors will retry Lopez, now 17.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon told the jury in his opening statement that it could have been either Smith or Lopez who fired the fatal shots that killed the victim.

Some witnesses identified Smith as the man who drove a car alongside the victim's vehicle near 47th Street and Ocean View Boulevard about 3:30 p.m. and opened fire, the prosecutor said.

Other witnesses told police that Lopez, the front passenger in Smith's car, was the shooter, Runyon said.

The day after Thanksgiving 2004, Smith and Lopez were getting gasoline at a market at 47th and Market streets when the vehicle driven by Champagne passed by, the prosecutor said.

One of the two passengers in Champagne's car told police that two men at the gas station were staring at them and threw up gang signs when they passed by, Runyon said.

After driving away, the occupants in Champagne's car noticed an Oldsmobile Cutlass following them, Runyon told the jury.

The Oldsmobile pulled up next to the driver's side of Champagne's sedan and the passenger in the Cutlass uttered a gang slogan, the prosecutor said. When Champagne rolled down his window to clarify what was said, he was shot under the left arm and head, Runyon said.

Later, a few blocks away, the Cutlass was involved in a hit-and-run accident with another vehicle. When the Oldsmobile didn't stop, the other driver followed the car until a man identified as Smith got out with a gun, Runyon told jurors.

The next day, officers found marijuana in a house where Smith was living, the prosecutor said. After Smith was arrested, he told police he was a marijuana dealer, according to Runyon.

Mary Ellen Attridge, the attorney for Lopez, told jurors that her client was only in Smith's car the day of the shooting because he needed a ride.

She said Champagne was a gang member who played “Crip-killing music” on his car stereo as he drove through the known Crips neighborhood.

Smith, a former military marksman known as “Trigger One,” took the music as an affront and went after the victim in his car, Attridge told the jury.

When Smith pulled even with Champagne, he pulled a gun out of his waistband and fired across Lopez's face, Attridge said.

“He (Smith) shot him in the head,” Attridge told the jury. “And this expert marksman, 'Trigger One,' killed him.”'

Attridge told the jury it would have to decide whether Lopez “did anything that day.”

The attorney said police believe Lopez is a gang member because his older brother was a West Coast Crip.

Smith's attorney, Jeffery Larrimore, said Champagne's back seat passenger didn't identity Smith as the driver of the suspect vehicle, even though he told police that he looked directly at the driver during the shooting.

Two other witnesses standing by the gas station described a totally different car than the one owned by Smith that was supposedly at the crime scene, Larrimore said.

Both of Champagne's passengers told police the driver of the suspect vehicle had braids, but Smith always wears his hair short, Larrimore told the jury.

At least three witnesses saw Lopez shoot the victim from the front passenger seat of the car he was in, Larrimore said.

Smith's car was not involved in the hit-and-run either, his attorney said.

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