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A prosecutor alleged today that a 19-year-old Oakland man fatally shot two other teenagers in West Oakland nearly two years ago because he wanted to prove himself to his gang. In his opening statement in Nicholas Harris’s trial on two counts of murder, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Charles Wilson said Harris belongs to the Gas Town Gang in West Oakland and “spent a lot of time trying to prove himself” because fellow gang members thought he had let the gang down by allowing another member to be killed. Wilson said Harris killed 18-year-old Nario Jackson and 17-year-old Edward Hampton in the 1000 block of Eighth Street at about 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2010, because “he thought it would put him back in the good graces of his gang.”
Afterward, Harris “was very proud of what he did,” telling his ex-girlfriend about the shootings and commenting about them on his Facebook page, Wilson said. Harris’s lawyer, Darryl Stallworth, admitted that Harris is a gang member and the case involves teenagers with “a horrible mentality” and no direction, hopes or dreams. “This was an incredibly tragic situation involving teenagers who have a mentality that shakes our society to the core,” Stallworth said. However, he said the prosecution’s case against Harris is weak and will rely on unreliable witnesses “whose testimony will be ripe with inconsistencies, biases and untruths.” Stallworth told jurors that at the end of the case “you will be offended by things but you will conclude that the case is not proved and return with a verdict of not guilty.”
Wilson said Jackson was affiliated with the Gas Town Gang but Harris targeted him because Jackson also was affiliated with other groups, including the rival Ghost Town Gang. Jackson “was a turf hopper and that’s absolutely not acceptable” to gang members, Wilson said. The prosecutor alleged that Harris targeted Hampton because he belonged to the DNI Squeeze Team gang in East Oakland. Wilson said Harris fired multiple shots at Jackson and Hampton when they drove up to the Acorn Housing Project, which he said is in the Gas Town Gang’s territory. They were in a Jaguar that Jackson had borrowed from someone, he said. Wilson said he will present testimony from three people who witnessed the shooting: a housing project security guard, a woman who was on the street at the time and another member of the Gas Town Gang.
He said the fellow gang member told police that Harris was the shooter but at Harris’s preliminary hearing last year “he changed his story because he realized he would get hurt” if he testified against Harris. Wilson played for jurors a videotape in which the fellow gang member told two Oakland police officers “I’m going to get killed!” if he testifies against Harris. The prosecutor said Harris was shocked that his ex-girlfriend testified at his preliminary hearing that he had admitted to her that he had killed Jackson and Hampton. The ex-girlfriend was assaulted and shot at after her testimony and is now in protective custody, Wilson said.
He said at the end of Harris’s trial he will ask jurors to convict him of two counts of murder, saying, “The evidence overwhelmingly proves the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” Jackson’s death was the first of two homicides that his family suffered in the span of eight months. Last July 30, Jackson’s younger brother, 16-year-old Najon Jackson, was fatally shot in the 9300 block of Sunnyside Street in Oakland shortly before midnight last July 30. Oakland police said today that no one has been arrested in the case. Najon Jackson would have been a junior at the Emery Secondary School last fall and more than 100 students and faculty attended a vigil for him at the school two days after he was killed.
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