General Crime

* Marcel Perry accused of murder in Oakland told police he carried out the shooting to prevent being labeled a snitch

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The defense lawyer for a reputed Oakland gang member accused of murdering a rival gang member two years ago said today that his client initially told police he carried out the shooting because he was afraid of being labeled a snitch. In his closing argument in the trial of 21-year-old Marcel Perry on charges that he killed 16-year-old Vincent Scott III, defense attorney Theodore Berry said Perry didn’t want to pin the blame on someone who could hurt him or his family.  “I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but it certainly makes sense for me,” Berry told jurors. Perry, a reputed member of the Acorn gang in West Oakland, is accused of killing Scott in the 3100 block of San Pablo Avenue at about 5 p.m. on Nov. 20, 2008. He admitted in separate interviews with the Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office in April 2009 that he killed Scott, a member of the rival Ghost Town gang in West Oakland, as retribution for Scott driving through Acorn’s territory. But when he took the witness stand in his own defense on Monday and Tuesday, Scott strongly denied that he was responsible, saying he took the blame “because I felt there wasn’t too much evidence against me since I wasn’t there.”  Perry testified that Scott, who was nicknamed “Skinny Poo,” was actually killed by Warren Ingram, reputedly an Acorn associate. Ingram, a 21-year-old Oakland man, was fatally shot in the 1700 block of 85th Avenue in Oakland on April 7, 2009 — the same day Perry was charged with murdering Scott. Investigators found 27 assault rifle bullet casings at the scene where Scott was killed, and Scott was hit in the back of the head at least three times. Perry faces at least 40 years to life in state prison if he’s convicted of the nine charges against him, including a charge that he carried out the crime to promote a gang, but Berry said he should be found not guilty of all charges because of insufficient evidence. Prosecutor Patrick Moriarty said that although no witnesses could identify Perry as the shooter, a cell phone found at the scene of the crime
was linked to him through DNA and through pictures and contacts police found in the phone’s memory chip.  Moriarty scoffed at Perry’s testimony that Acorn, which is allegedly based at the Acorn housing project in West Oakland, is not a gang and that he’s not a gang member. He reminded jurors of three days of testimony by Oakland police Officer Steve Valle, who was qualified as an expert witness on Oakland’s  gangs. Valle testified that Perry is a member of Acorn and Scott was a member of Ghost Town. Noting that Valle has spent the past seven years studying  Oakland’s gangs and 15 judges have qualified him as an expert witness on the
subject, Moriarty said that in light of Perry’s claim that there isn’t an Acorn gang, “We should get the word out to Officer Valle and tell him he’s wasted the last seven years of his life.” The prosecutor said the claim by both Perry and Berry that there isn’t an Acorn gang “is simply ridiculous.”  “Acorn is a gang, Perry is a member, and he committed this crime in the furtherance of the gang,” Moriarty said. “That testimony is uncontroverted.” Jurors began deliberating at 2:30 p.m. today but adjourned after two hours. They will resume deliberating Monday morning.   
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