Reputed Oakland gang member Marcel Perry was sentenced today to 56 years to life in state prison for fatally shooting a rival gang member two years ago because he thought the rival had disrespected his gang.Perry’s lawyer, Anne Beles, asked Alameda County Superior Court Judge Joan Cartwright to show some compassion for him, saying, “He tried to reach up from an extraordinarily difficult childhood,” and is “a human being with a family that loves him.”But Cartwright rejected Beles’ plea, telling her, “I find it unsettling that people come here and blame an unhappy childhood as a reason for their behavior.”The judge said, “Everyone who had a pitiful childhood is not sitting here in this court, and the majority are doing well.”Respect your community and don’t go out with assault rifles shooting up your neighborhood because of a stupid gang.”Perry was convicted of first-degree murder on Aug. 25 for killing 16-year-old Vincent Scott III in the 3100 block of San Pablo Avenue at about 5 p.m. on Nov. 20, 2008.Scott died in his car after he was struck at least three times in the back of the head by bullets from Perry’s AR-15 assault rifle, according to police. Evidence in the case revealed the shooter fired the powerful rifle at least 27 times.Prosecutor Patrick Moriarty told jurors that Perry belongs to the Acorn gang, which operates out of the Acorn housing project in West Oakland, and Scott was a member of the Ghost Town gang, which operates out of a nearby neighborhood in West Oakland.Scott’s father once led that gang.Moriarty said bad feelings between the two gangs broke out in 2006 over the theft of tire rims off a gang member’s car. Perry shot Scott as retribution for Scott driving through Acorn’s territory, he said.In addition to being convicted of first-degree murder, Perry was convicted of shooting at an occupied vehicle and three counts of carrying out a crime to promote gang activity.Perry admitted in separate interviews with Oakland police and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office in April 2009 that he killed Scott.But when he took the witness stand in his trial, he strongly denied that he was responsible, saying that he was at the Acorn housing complex all day.After Perry was convicted, he fired his trial attorney, Theodore Berry, and hired Beles, who represented him today and will handle his appeal.Beles told Cartwright that Perry “was convicted even though he proclaims his innocence.”But Moriarty said he thinks the evidence against Perry was strong.The prosecutor described Perry as “a man who would use a military assault rifle at 5 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon and unload it across four lanes of traffic during rush hour.”Moriarty said that as tragic as Scott’s death was, “We’re lucky that only one person died – there could be so many more deaths.”Cartwright agreed, saying, “There could have been many, many more” victims.
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Stephan J. Dougan, Personal Injury Attorney
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