The man accused of murdering 3-year-old Carlos Nava in a drive-by shooting in East Oakland on Monday was assigned an attorney from the Alameda County Public Defender’s Office at a brief hearing on Friday.Lawrence Denard, a 26-year-old Oakland man who has prior convictions for grand theft and possession of a firearm by a felon, is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court on Aug. 29 to enter a plea. Denard is charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearmby a felon in connection with the shooting in the 6400 block of International Boulevard at about 1:12 p.m. on Monday that killed Carlos and wounded two adult males.
Oakland police said they believe the shooting was gang-related and the two adult men were the intended targets in the shooting, as Carlos and his family had no connection with them. According to a probable cause statement filed in court by detectives, one of the men who was shot provided the name of the driver of the suspect vehicle when he was questioned at the hospital where he is being treated. Investigators also located an additional witness who identified the shooter as Denard. Denard was taken into custody shortly after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in Pittsburg but police are still seeking the second suspect, who they believe drove the car that was used in the shooting.
The shooting outraged community members. At a vigil for Carlos on Tuesday night Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said the person who killed Carlos was “an animal.” But a female cousin of Denard who attended his hearing on Friday said Denard “is not an animal” and alleged that authorities “don’t have no strong evidence against him.” The cousin, who declined to give her name, said Denard “is not going to do that kind of thing and we’re going to get him out” of jail.
Another cousin, Edward Benton, said Denard “is a good, loving person who just wants to take care of his 4-year-old daughter.” Benton said he thinks Denard is being ‘framed” and vowed “there will be a lawsuit” against the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office for charging Denard. Benton said the people who identified Denard as being the shooter in the incident didn’t see the shooter’s face and only described the shooter as having dreadlocks. “There are a thousand people in Oakland who have dreadlocks,” Benton said.
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