General Crime

Jason Watts convicted today of two counts of first-degree murder

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An Oakland man was convicted today of two counts of first-degree murder for his role in the shooting deaths of two men in West Oakland in March 2010. Jurors deliberated for less than one full day before reaching their verdicts against Jason Watts, 27, for the deaths of 29-year-old Victor Johns and 56-year-old John Jones, both of Oakland, who were killed in the 1000 block of 30th Street in Oakland at about 2:35 p.m. on March 5. Watts was also convicted of the special circumstance of committing multiple murders, which means that he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he’s sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Joan Cartwright on Feb. 8.

Prosecutors believe that DeShawn Reed, 29, shot both Johns and Jones and Watts drove the car to and from the shooting scene. Prosecutors say Watts slowed down the car as he and Reed approached the scene and then Reed got out of the car and shot both Johns and Jones before climbing back inside. Watts and Reed sped from the scene but Oakland police Officer Michael Osanna was on routine patrol in the area and was able to quickly detain them, according to prosecutors. Reed has been declared mentally incompetent to stand trial and is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 3 for a progress report on his mental health.

Watts put his head down and then looked back at his family members and friends after the verdicts against him were announced. His mother reacted with outrage, shouting, “It’s not right! My son didn’t kill nobody.” Sobbing, Watts’ mother told him at the end of the hearing, “We love you, baby. Hang in there.” Family members of Johns and Jones also cried when the verdicts were announced. Watts admitted to having two prior felony convictions, one for selling and transporting marijuana in 2004 and one for selling a controlled substance in 2005. In his closing argument on Tuesday, Watts’ lawyer, Michael Berger, told jurors that Watts should be found not guilty because “there’s simply a failure of proof” in the case. Berger said, “Mr. Reed’s guilt is essential to the case” but he doesn’t think the prosecution proved that Reed was the shooter because there were discrepancies in the witnesses’ description of the shooter. Berger said, “This case is not proven. It sounds like the shooter was someone other than Mr. Reed.” He said, “We may never know who the murderer was.”

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