General Crime

* Eric Perry was Convicted of First-Degree Murder for Killing and Robbing an Antioch Man Who Got Lost in Oakland

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An Oakland man was convicted today of first-degree murder for killing and robbing an Antioch man who got lost in Oakland while celebrating his 29th birthday five years ago.

Prosecutor Laura Passaglia said the victim, Ronald Jimmey Spears, was with two female friends but they got lost while trying to find a friend’s house and stopped at a gas station at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and 55th Street at about 1 a.m. on Aug. 21, 2007, to ask for directions. They met up with Eric Perry, now 25, who told Spears and his friends how to get to their destination and said he would get in Spears’ Dodge Charger to guide them there, Passaglia said. But after Perry drove away from the gas station, Perry pulled out a gun, demanded money from everyone in the car and eventually fatally shot Spears and stole his gold necklace, she said. “It probably was a crime of opportunity after a chance meeting,” Passaglia told jurors in her closing argument in Perry’s trial last week. She said Spears “was dressed well and had a beautiful chain and looked like a good victim.” Perry “did it quickly right away” and shot and killed Spears “in a cold and calculated manner” after a struggle, Passaglia said. Spears’ gold chain was “the trophy from the robbery,” she said.

Perry was connected to Spears’ shooting death when the chain was found in his jail cell when he was in custody in an unrelated case in July 2008, according to Passaglia. In addition, Perry’s fingerprints were found in Spears’ car, she said. Perry’s attorney, Daniel Taylor, couldn’t be reached for comment today. In his closing argument, Taylor asked jurors to find Perry not guilty, saying that Spears’ two female friends were inaccurate and unreliable when they identified Perry as the man who killed Spears. But Passaglia said she believes the two women were reliable witnesses and “had no motive to lie.” She said, “They’re victims, too, because they had to watch their friend die.” Passaglia told jurors that Spears “wasn’t armed, gave up what he had and didn’t deserve to die.”

Spears was born in Eureka and participated in football, basketball and track at Pittsburg High School, said his aunt, Dorothy Douglas of Antioch. Douglas served as Spears’ guardian after his mother died when he was only 9 years old. Spears also played football for the College of the Redwoods in Eureka, Douglas said. A tragic postscript to Spears’ shooting death occurred about a month later, at about 4:45 p.m. on Sept. 20, 2007, when Oakland police Sgt. Patrick Gonzalez tried to talk to 20-year-old Gary King of Oakland in the 5400 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way because he thought King fit the description of the suspect in Spears’ death.

Police said King and Gonzalez got into a violent fight and Gonzalez shot and killed King after King reached into his waistband. Police said King was armed with a loaded gun. The city of Oakland paid $1.5 million in 2009 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit that was filed by King’s family.

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