Two Oakland men were sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murdering two drug dealers more than three years ago.Emotions ran high at the hearing for Marrin Hughes, 26, and 27-year-old Louis Sanders, as their family members as well relatives of victims Jabari Harris, 23, and Luis Coria, 21, packed the 85-seat courtroom of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson. Four bailiffs were on duty to maintain order.
Harris, who was a crack cocaine dealer, and Coria, who dealt drugs with him, were shot to death in the 4500 block of Bancroft Avenue in East Oakland at about 7:50 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2007.According to prosecutor Jim Meehan, there was a long-standing feud between Harris and Hughes because Harris told Hughes he could not deal drugs in the 4500 block of Bancroft, which he said is a drug-dealing area known as “the spot.”Harris wanted to control the area, but Hughes and Sanders, who are cousins, also wanted to sell drugs there, Meehan said.
Tensions had been rising, and Hughes and Sanders decided to attack Harris on Sept. 11, 2007, because they thought he was vulnerable because Harris’ associate had been arrested and jailed the previous week, Meehan said.According to Meehan, Sanders killed Harris and Hughes killed Coria.On Feb. 7, jurors convicted Sanders and Hughes of two counts each of first-degree murder plus the special circumstance of committing multiple murders.Coria’s cousin, Sgt. Francisco Perez-Lopez, who serves in the U.S. Marine Corps and grew up with Coria in Oakland, said he considered Coria to be “my little brother” because he doesn’t have a blood brother.
Perez-Lopez said, “I’ve lost brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan but to lose my brother here in the safety of the United States is very heartbreaking for me.”In a letter to the court that Meehan read aloud, Coria’s mother, Severa Coria, said, “My grief washes over me, and I feel like this is all a nightmare and isn’t real.”She told Jacobson, “Please keep both of these defendants in prison as long as possible so they won’t hurt another family.
“Severa Coria said her son leaves behind three children, including a daughter who was born a day after his funeral.Harris’ mother, Juliana Rogers, said in a letter read aloud by Meehan that, “My life will never be the same” but that she has to move on with her life because she has to help raise Harris’ four children.Sanders’ mother, Trina Phillips, said in a letter read aloud by Jacobson that Sanders was “a lovable son” who is survived by four daughters “who are having a hard time without their dad.
“Hughes and Sanders did not express any remorse for the murders at the hearing. Instead, they both tried to fire their lawyers and asked for new trials.But Jacobson ruled that their motions were untimely and said the sentencing should go forward as scheduled.Hughes said he thinks he should get a new trial because there was
“highly contradicting” testimony by the prosecution’s witnesses.But Jacobson said, “I’m comfortable with the evidence and the verdict in the case and I’m convinced the verdict was correct.”
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