A San Jose man who admitted that he made “a terrible mistake” was sentenced today to 50 years to life for murdering a 22-year-old man at a gas station in Oakland three years ago. Miguel Wooten, 25, said he “was in a bad place” and his mind “was in the streets” when he fatally shot William Jeffrey Johnson at the crowded Valero gas station at Seminary Avenue and Macarthur Boulevard in Oakland shortly after 2 p.m. on Sept. 21, 2008.
Wooten apologized both to Johnson’s family and to his own family, saying that his actions didn’t represent how he was raised. Prosecutor Eddie Vieira-Ducey said Wooten sold drugs in the vicinity of the gas station and had been involved in a verbal altercation with Johnson a few months before the fatal shooting. Wooten and Johnson had also dated the same woman in the past, he said.
Vieira-Ducey said on Sept. 21, 2008, Wooten saw Johnson sitting in the back seat of a parked Lexus at the Valero station, came up to Johnson and said, “What’s up, blood.” As Johnson turned, Wooten fired at least five shots at Johnson, killing him, according to Vieira-Ducey.
When Wooten was arrested in February 2009 he admitted shooting Johnson but said he did so because he had heard that Johnson and his friends were making threats against his life and he thought Johnson might kill him when they ran into each other at the gas station, the prosecutor said. However, Vieira-Ducey said Johnson wasn’t armed at the time of the fatal shooting and a gas station video of the incident shows that Johnson didn’t make any threatening gestures toward Wooten.
On Sept. 27 jurors convicted Wooten of first-degree murder and an enhancement that he intentionally fired a gun, causing death. 50 years to life is the standard sentence for a conviction for those offenses. Wooten’s lawyer, Darryl Stallworth, said Wooten “was raised by a strong single mother” but became “excited” about assuming an alter ego and coming to Oakland to sell drugs. Wooten had “a love of living the street life,” Stallworth said.
Johnson’s mother told Wooten in court today that she forgives him for killing her son and told him she hopes he finds God. “It was a very spiritual moment,” Stallworth said.
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