General Crime

* Gumaro Baez was Convicted of the Shooting Deaths of San Leandro High School Students

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An Oakland man has been convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and other charges for fatally shooting two teenage girls in February 2008 in a bid to avenge the death of his brother at the hands of police officers. Gumaro Baez, 21, was convicted on Tuesday for the shooting deaths of San Leandro High School students Dominique Hoover-Brown, 15, and Melissa Jackson, 17, in the 6500 block of Outlook Avenue in East Oakland at about 11:15 p.m. on Feb. 3, 2008.

Baez was also convicted of two counts of attempted murder for shooting at two men who were with Hoover-Brown and Jackson and of personally using a gun in the incident. In addition, he was convicted of three special circumstance clauses — two for murdering witnesses, namely the teenage girls, and one for committing multiple murders.

However, jurors acquitted Baez of an additional murder count that alleged that he fatally shot 40-year-old Terrance Brown in the 3300 block of 64th Avenue Place in an unrelated incident at about 12:50 a.m. on Feb. 2, 2008, less than 48 hours before the girls were killed. Prosecutor Stacie Pettigrew said today that she believes ballistics evidence ties Baez to Brown’s death but there weren’t any eyewitnesses in that incident and authorities were unable to discover the motive for it.

Pettigrew said Baez was upset that his brother, 21-year-old Addiel Meza, was killed by Oakland police officers in the 2400 block of 62nd Avenue, near Foothill Boulevard, at about 2:40 a.m. on Feb. 3, 2007, which was almost exactly one year prior to the February 2008 incidents. Pettigrew said police responded to that area after residents reported that Meza was firing a handgun into the air. Oakland police said officers fatally shot Meza after he threatened them with a gun. Pettigrew said Baez was upset at a man who was with Meza the night Meza was killed because the man didn’t give Meza a ride, something that Baez thought would have prevented Meza’s confrontation with police and his eventual death. Baez targeted that man as he drove a van in the Feb. 3, 2008, shooting, Pettigrew said.

Hoover-Brown and Jackson were passengers in the man’s van and simply “were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Pettigrew said. After Baez shot the man and another man in the van, he decided to kill Hoover-Brown and Jackson because they were witnesses, according to Pettigrew. Baez “was a cold-blooded killer who killed for no reason,” she said. Pettigrew said the teenage girls and the two men in the van who were shot but survived “were all innocent” and Baez didn’t even know the girls. Baez’s lawyer, Al Wax, couldn’t be reached for comment today.

Baez faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he’s sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Paul Delucchi on Feb. 27. Devashawn Walker, a 22-year-old Oakland man, was also charged with three counts of murder for the two shooting incidents but he pleaded guilty to one count of voluntary manslaughter last year and was sentenced to 11 years in state prison.

Pettigrew said prosecutors agreed to the plea deal because there was a lack of evidence against Walker. She said all three murders were combined into one case because they occurred within a 48-hour period in the same area and the same gun was used.

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