A 22-year-old Oakland man could spend the rest of his life in state prison after being convicted today of first-degree murder for the shooting death of another Oakland man two years ago. Dressed in brown pants and a brown shirt, Dimario Pickford put his hand over his face and bowed his head when the jury announced it found him responsible for the death of 22-year-old Desmond Thomas in the 2200 block of Seminary Avenue shortly after midnight on Oct. 18, 2008.Thomas was hit by four bullets and died from massive bleeding as he lay on a concrete driveway across the street from the J & M Grocery and Liquors store.Pickford faces 50 years to life in state prison when he’s sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Cecilia Castellanos on Nov. 5.In addition to convicting Pickford of first-degree murder, which carries a term of 25 years to life, jurors, who deliberated for the equivalent of two full days, found him guilty of using a gun to kill Thomas, which carries another 25 years.They also convicted him of possession of an assault weapon. Prosecutor James Meehan said the motive for the fatal shooting wasn’t clear, but he said there had been “ongoing bad blood” between Pickford and Thomas.Meehan said two witnesses identified Pickford as the man who killed Thomas, cell phone records placed Pickford at the scene of the crime, and Pickford was wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying an assault weapon in his backpack when he was arrested 12 days after the shooting.But Thomas’ lawyer, Darryl Stallworth, said he was “particularly disappointed” by the verdicts against Thomas because he believes the prosecution’s case was weak and was based on witnesses who had “credibility issues.”Stallworth said the testimony of a woman who said she saw Pickford shoot Thomas was contradicted by the physical evidence in the case, such as where the shots were fired and the sequence of the shots.He also said the woman was drunk when she gave her statement to Oakland police and alleged that she might have been trying to protect her son, who has had some disputes with Pickford and might have had a motive to kill him.Stallworth also said an informant who testified that Pickford admitted to him to killing Thomas wasn’t credible, claiming that the informant had been arrested for auto theft and might have implicated Pickford so he could get a favorable deal in his own case.In addition, Stallworth said the informant admitted that he was high on drugs when he testified against Pickford at his preliminary hearing and at his trial.”It’s particularly sad that this level of evidence is enough to convict someone of murder,” Stallworth said.But Meehan said, “I can say without any hesitation that the jury got it right.”Meehan said jurors told him that the case was difficult and they tried to give Pickford the benefit of the doubt but when they analyzed the case, including “discrepancies” in the woman’s testimony. They concluded, however, there was enough evidence to prove Pickford “was in fact the person responsible for the shooting,” Meehan said. He said the woman and the informant didn’t know each other, and jurors were struck by the fact that they independently provided incriminating evidence against Pickford.
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