An Oakland man has been convicted of first-degree murder for the shooting death of a man who had been set up to be robbed by his ex-girlfriend, who was a prostitute. Jurors, who only deliberated for three hours, convicted Marcus Ward, 23, on Tuesday of the murder charge and the special circumstance of committing a murder during the course of a robbery for the slaying of 31-year-old Michael Schenk in East Oakland on Oct. 5, 2011.
Ward’s convictions mean he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Joan Cartwright on May 10. According to a probable cause statement filed in court by Oakland police, Ward’s girlfriend, Gequesha Nolan, 22, set up the robbery through another prostitute through text messages and verbal communications and tried to make it look like Schenk was driving the other prostitute to the 7100 block of Favor Street for a date.
Police said Schenk saw Ward approaching him with a gun while he was sitting in his car at about 10 p.m. that night and tried to drive away, but Ward fired several shots and struck him multiple times. Schenk drove away but crashed into parked vehicles a short distance away at 1481 73rd Ave. and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Officer Bradley Baker said multiple people identified Ward as the person responsible for the attempted robbery and murder of Schenk.
Baker said Ward, who has prior felony convictions for second-degree robbery and being an accessory after the fact, confessed to Oakland police that he attempted to rob Schenk and then shot him. According to the probable cause statement, Nolan confessed to setting Schenk up to be robbed. In her closing argument on Tuesday, Ward’s lawyer, Deborah Levy, told jurors that she thinks there is reasonable doubt about Ward’s guilt because she believes much of the testimony by the prosecution’s witnesses was “not believable.
” Levy also suggested that the reason Ward confessed that he attempted to rob Schenk and then shot him was that he was trying to take the blame for the people who really carried out the crime. “That’s the code on the street,” Levy said. But prosecutor Greg Dolge said the physical evidence in the case and three separate confessions by Ward “adds up in one direction: Marcus Ward is guilty as charged.
” Nolan was scheduled to stand trial with Ward and also faced a potential life term, but she pleaded no contest to second-degree murder on the eve of the trial and is expected to receive a term of 15 years to life in state prison when she is also sentenced on May 10. Nolan has a prior conviction for assault with a deadly weapon. A third suspect, 23-year-old Jeremiah Walker, was arrested in Oakland on March 13 and is charged with murder and unlawful firearm activity for his role in the crime. Walker pleaded not guilty on Monday and is scheduled to return to court on June 3 for a pre-trial hearing.
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