General Crime

Michael Peau Admitted Drug Dealer Who Claimed He Killed Roberto Guzman in Self Defense is Convicted of Murder

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An Oakland drug dealer who claimed that he was acting in self-defense was convicted today of first-degree murder for fatally shooting a friend the friend’s home in West Oakland in September 2011. Michael Peau, 24, admitted during his one-week trial that he killed Roberto Guzman, 22, in the 3200 block of Hannah Street at about 11:55 a.m. on Sept. 24, 2011, but said he did so only after Guzman tried to attack him with a screwdriver. Peau testified that he always carries a gun because he’s a drug dealer and feels a need to protect himself. But jurors apparently didn’t believe Peau because they reached a verdict against him late this morning after deliberating for only several hours.

Peau will face a state prison term of 50 years to life when Alameda County Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer sentences him on March 22 because in addition to first-degree murder jurors convicted him of using a gun to kill Guzman. Prosecutor Luis Marin told jurors that Guzman lived with his girlfriend and her family at their house on Hannah Street and had been friends with Peau but became upset with Peau because of a transaction in which his girlfriend’s father bought a car from Peau. Marin said Peau offered to sell the father a used car for $100 and assured him that there weren’t any problems with it. However, the prosecutor said that when the father went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to register the car, officials told him it had been stolen at gunpoint and took the car from the father, turning it over to Oakland police.

Afterward, Guzman told Peau, “I don’t want to see you again” and told him not to come around anymore at the house where he lived with his girlfriend’s family, Marin said. The prosecutor said Peau “didn’t appreciate the way Mr. Guzman had talked to him so he decided to have the last word” by firing a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun at Guzman 11 times, striking him 10 times. Marin said Peau, 23, should be convicted of murder because, “The evidence proves the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” But Peau’s attorney, David Bryden, said Peau shot Guzman only because he believed Guzman would seriously injure him or kill him when Guzman grabbed a screwdriver, which he described as “a large stabbing instrument” and “charged” at Peau. Bryden said Peau approached Guzman as he was working on his car because “he wanted to work something out” but Guzman charged at him.

Bryden told jurors that Peau should only be convicted of voluntary manslaughter because Peau believed he had to shoot Guzman in order to protect himself. The defense attorney said today that he’s “surprised and dismayed” that jurors convicted Peau of first-degree murder, saying he thinks the most Peau should have been convicted of is second-degree murder. Bryden said the physical evidence in the case corroborates Peau’s testimony that the first four shots were fired were aimed at the ground, not at Guzman.

But he said jurors told him after they announced their verdict that the fact that Peau fired a total of 11 shots and struck Guzman 10 times proved to them that he had “ample time to premeditate and deliberate what he was doing” and therefore was guilty of first-degree murder. However, Bryden said he still doesn’t think Peau had time to reflect on what he was doing because a gun expert testified that the 9 mm semi-automatic handgun that Peau used is capable of firing all 11 cartridges in its chamber “in a matter of seconds.”

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