An Oakland man was sentenced today to 15 years in state prison for shooting another man to death after an argument over a $10 drug transaction outside a liquor store near Oakland City Hall in December 2007.Marlyn Ranson, 24, had been charged with murder for the death of 26-year-old Leon Cooper outside SA Liquors in the 600 block of 14th Street near Jefferson Street at about 3:50 p.m. on Dec. 10, 2007.But prosecutor Joni Leventis said she allowed Ranson to plead guilty to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter on the eve of his trial on April 9 because there were elements of imperfect self-defense in the case.Imperfect self-defense is the honest but unreasonable belief that you need to use deadly force to defend yourself, Leventis explained.Leventis said another reason she agreed to the manslaughter plea is that Ranson might have been a sympathetic figure to jurors because he didn’t have a prior criminal record and still suffers from lingering head injuries he sustained when he was hit by a car when he was 3 years old.The prosecutor said Ranson and Cooper were associated with rival groups of drug dealers who had been feuding since at least 2005, when a member of Cooper’s group killed a member of Ranson’s group.Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay, who sentenced Ranson, said Cooper’s death was the unfortunate result of Oakland’s violent drug trade, in which most participants are armed with guns.Leventis said Cooper was upset on Dec. 10, 2007, because a member of the faction to which Ranson belonged had sold $10 of rock cocaine in the 600 block of 14th Street, which Cooper considered to be his territory. In addition, Cooper considered the man who bought the cocaine to be solely his client, she said.Cooper was “aggressive” and demanded money from the friend of Ranson who had sold the drugs, Leventis said.Ranson and his friends tried to walk away at one point, but Cooper continued to pursue them, according to Leventis.When Cooper reached toward his waistband, Ranson pulled out a gun and shot him, Leventis said. Cooper was unarmed at the time.Ranson told Oakland police later that he thought his life was in danger because Cooper had showed him a gun only three days earlier and told him to stay away from that corner, so he assumed Cooper was armed, she said.After being shot, Cooper staggered into SA Liquors, where he died, according to Leventis. Children were playing in the area, which is known for drug activity, at the time of the shooting, she said.The shooting occurred only one block away from Oakland City Hall and across the street from the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building.At today’s hearing, Cooper’s mother called Ranson “a monster” and said she thinks he should have been convicted of murder.
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