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A jury this morning found a Richmond man guilty of first-degree murder for the 2010 fatal shooting of an El Cerrito man prosecutors say was mistaken for a rival gang member. Nickie Allen Donald, 22, was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle and shooting from a moving vehicle for shooting and killing 20-year-old Asama Naiem Ayyad and injuring Ayyad’s 15-year-old cousin in Richmond on June 25, 2010. Donald faces a minimum sentence of 50 years in prison, Deputy District Attorney Satish Jallepalli said.
Sitting next to his attorney in court this morning, Donald smirked and laughed as a clerk read the verdict. Prosecutors say he shot and killed Ayyad after seeing his car and mistaking it as the vehicle of a rival gang member. Ayyad’s younger cousin was shot in the leg and survived. “My brother was in the crossfire — he was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Aysha Ayyad, the victim’s older sister, who was joined by more than a dozen family members in court today. Ayyad had been volunteering at a Richmond mosque for an event that drew hundreds of people the night of June 25, 2010. He was driving his Lexus coupe in the area around 11 p.m. with his cousin in the passenger seat when a van pulled up and Donald drew a 40-caliber handgun and shot into the Lexus, striking them both, prosecutors said.
During the trial, Donald testified that he was not a member of the North Richmond gang Project Trojans, and jurors today struck down enhancements alleging that the shooting was carried out for the benefit of a gang. Aysha Ayyad today said the family was stunned to learn that her brother had been shot and killed. “We weren’t even allowed to play with (toy) guns growing up, so the fact that he was killed due to gun violence shocked us,” she said outside of the courtroom this morning.
She described her brother as a friendly young man who could always be counted on to help out family members, friends and co-workers. The Kennedy High School graduate worked at his uncle’s store in Berkeley and was looking forward to meeting a girl his family hoped he might marry, family members said today. Fayza Ayyad, the victim’s mother, said after the verdict was read today that she believes the truth has finally come out about her son’s killer. “When you hold a gun, that means you are responsible…for your actions,” she said tearfully. “You can’t kill someone.” Donald is set to return to court in April to schedule a sentencing hearing.
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