The reputed leader of one of Oakland’s most violent drug gangs was convicted of attempted murder and other charges today for shooting a rival gang member at a busy street corner in broad daylight four years ago. Marc Candler, 35, who allegedly heads the Acorn gang based in the Acorn housing project in West Oakland, reacted nonchalantly when an Alameda County Superior Court jury announced its verdict after only a day and a half of deliberations. Candler, who has a shaved head, silver teeth and an acorn tattoo on his arm, laughed and talked with his attorney, James Giller, and with his cousin, 26-year-old Elijah Thomas, who was also convicted of attempted murder and other charges. Prosecutor John Brouhard said Candler and Thomas were the main
culprits in an incident that occurred at about 6:30 p.m. on June 30, 2006, when more than 40 shots were fired near the intersection of 31st Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Brouhard described the shooting as a “crazy scene” and said the area is in the territory of the rival Ghost Town gang. During the shooting, Ghost Town member Jermel Holloway was shot in his legs and rear end, and bullets entered homes in the area. No one else was injured, though. Brouhard said in his closing argument on Tuesday that there was a war between the two gangs and alleged that Candler was upset at Holloway because Holloway had “disrespected” Candler’s close associate Wendell Stevenson. Brouhard asserted that Candler shot up the neighborhood because, “He wanted to make a statement that this is what happens when you disrespect someone from Acorn.” The prosecutor played for jurors a video in which Candler, who’s a rap singer, said, “Acorn is the most dominant force in a 20-mile radius,” and, “It’s all about the respect.”Holloway survived the 2006 shooting and testified at Candler’s preliminary hearing in 2008. He wasn’t able to testify at Candler’s trial, though, because he was fatally shot on Nov. 29, 2009, in the 3000 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland, only a block from where he was shot in the 2006 incident. Oakland police said Holloway, who was 28, was there to observe the
third anniversary of the fatal shooting of a friend who had also lived in the area. Giller, Candler’s attorney, said in his closing argument that Stevenson might have been the person who shot Holloway in 2006, arguing he had a motive because he’d been in a confrontation with Holloway. But Stevenson also could not testify because he was shot and killed at a Fremont motel on Nov. 29, 2006, allegedly by two members of a third Oakland gang. He was 26 years old. In addition to attempted murder, Candler and Thomas were convicted of shooting at an inhabited dwelling, seriously injuring a person with a gun, and acting to benefit a criminal street gang. Candler, who has previous convictions for possessing and selling drugs, was also convicted of four counts of being an ex-felon in possession of a gun. Brouhard said Candler and Thomas both face at least 40 years to life in prison when they’re sentenced by Judge Thomas Reardon on Sept. 23. The shooting was “a very violent and bold attack, and we’re pleased with the jury’s decision,” Brouhard said. He called the Acorn gang an “extremely dangerous and violent criminal enterprise.” “We believe they were responsible for a number of homicides,” he said. Giller and Frank Lang, who represents Thomas, declined to comment specifically on the verdict, but Giller said he’s upset there weren’t any African Americans or West Oakland residents on the jury. Most jurors were from outlying areas in Alameda County, he said. “What do they know about the culture of West Oakland?” he said. Candler and Thomas were two of 54 suspected Acorn gang members who were arrested on June 17, 2008, in a massive raid conducted by 400 officers from 17 law enforcement agencies. Police said 41 guns were confiscated in the raid. The raids were the culmination of a three-month effort called “Operation Nutcracker.” Attorney General Jerry Brown joined former Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker and other law enforcement officials at a news conference when the arrests were announced and called the Acorn gang members “urban terrorists.” Oakland police Lt. Ersie Joyner, who was one of many law enforcement officers in court today when the verdicts were read, said at the news conference that Acorn was “the most violent gang we’ve seen in a long time. Another reputed Acorn gang member who was arrested in the raid was William Lovan, a 29-year-old meter repairman for the city of Oakland, who is the nephew of former City Administrator Deborah Edgerly. Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums fired Edgerly on July 1, 2008, amid allegations she attempted to interfere with Oakland police on June 7, 2008, when they towed Lovan’s car from a spot next to a West Oakland liquor store because he had a gun inside. Charges were never brought against Edgerly, and she filed a wrongful termination suit against the city of Oakland that’s still pending. Lovan pleaded no contest on Oct. 13, 2009, to a felony charge of carrying a concealed and unregistered firearm in his car. But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson only sentenced Lovan to five years’ probation, including a year of home detention with electronic monitoring, even though he was also convicted in 2000 of felony possession of assault weapons. Lovan still works for the city.
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