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An Oakland man was sentenced today to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for his conviction on 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 on Dec. 19 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 at about 2:35 p.m. on March 5, 2010.
Watts, who wasn’t suspected of being the shooter in the incident, was also convicted of the special circumstance of committing multiple murders, which resulted in his life in state prison term. Prosecutor Autrey James said he believes that DeShawn Reed, 29, shot both Johns and Jones and that Watts drove the car to and from the shooting scene. James said 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 July 10 for a progress report on his mental health. 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 in Watts’ trial, his defense attorney, 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 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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