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An 18-year-old Oakland man has been convicted of first-degree murder but his alleged accomplice has been acquitted for the shooting death two years ago of a man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.Earnest Prescott was also convicted of discharging a gun and causing the death of 43-year-old James Lee Johnson in the 1100 block of Eighth Street at 3 p.m. on June 6, 2010.
Prescott faces a term of 50 years to life in state prison when he is sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer on July 9.However, Jason Jones, 27, who was accused of being Prescott’s accomplice and was also charged with murder, is free after jurors found him not guilty when they announced their verdicts in the case last Friday.
Prosecutor Greg Dolge said authorities believe Prescott and Jones belong to the Ghost Town gang, which was the subject of a highly-publicized raid called “Operation Ghostbusters” on May 20, 2010, that resulted in the arrest of 26 suspected gang members. Dolge said Johnson was a law-abiding citizen who wasn’t connected to any gang or criminal activity and was merely walking from his home to a nearby store on a Sunday afternoon when he was shot and killed.
Oakland police said the area where Johnson was shot is considered to be the turf of the Acorn gang, which is a rival of the Ghost Town gang. Dolge said Prescott and Jones were driving in the Acorn area and saw a man who they thought was a reputed Acorn member who had wronged them in the past, but by the time they parked their car, they couldn’t find the man.
It turned out that Prescott and Jones were wrong about who they thought they had seen because the reputed Acorn member was in custody at the time, Dolge said. They then walked up to Johnson, whom they didn’t know, and Prescott shot him, he said. A large group of people attended a vigil in honor of Johnson the night after he was killed. A third man, Armond Turner, who drove the suspects’ car, was also charged with murder in connection with Johnson’s death.
However, before the trial for Prescott and Jones began, Turner pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced to four years in state prison. Defense attorneys John Plaine, who represents Prescott, and David Bryden, who represents Jones, couldn’t be reached for comment today.
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