A Vallejo woman convicted in the 2010 murder of her son’s father in Pittsburg was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole during an emotional and at times chaotic three-hour hearing in a Richmond courtroom today. “I still can’t believe you did what you did, hunting my brother down like a wild animal and shooting him,” said Ronald Payne, a brother of 31-year-old Andrew Le’Mar Green, who was shot and killed in Pittsburg in February 2010 by Jennell Wright, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child.
“You have two beautiful children…I don’t understand, how could you not think about them?” Green’s mother, Pittsburg resident Lucinda Jackson, asked Wright in court today. Wright has an older son from a previous relationship and a son with Green, who is now six years old and being raised by Jackson. Now 37, Wright will spend the rest of her life in prison for the fatal shooting. A jury convicted her earlier this year of first-degree murder with special allegations of committing the murder by lying in wait and with the intentional use of a firearm. Today’s sentencing came five months after Wright’s second murder trial in connection with the shooting; the first trial in 2011 resulted in a hung jury.
Prosecutors said the Vallejo woman was upset that Green, with whom she had separated, had found love with another woman and was trying to get more time with his son. Even after Wright remarried, she continued to harass Green with frequent phone calls, text messages and surprise visits to his job as a bus mechanic at County Connection, family members said.
Prosecutors said Wright’s bullying turned deadly when she formulated a plan to kill him. Deputy District Attorney Lynn Uilkema said Wright followed through on her plan the night of Feb. 22, 2010, when she drove to Pittsburg and checked into a hotel near Green’s apartment complex. She then armed herself with a gun and bullet speed-loader, drove to his apartment and waited in a darkened area of the parking lot waiting for him to return from work, Uilkema said. When Green arrived around 1:20 a.m., Wright ambushed him as his sat in his parked car, shooting him three times, according to the prosecutor. Police said he stumbled out of his car and fell to the ground, leaving the keys in the ignition. Wright’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Winnie Gin, argued during the trial that her client was suicidal and disoriented when she went to pay Green a visit and had only planned to kill herself that night.
But like the jury that convicted her, Green’s family members today made it clear they weren’t buying that argument. Jackson said that in the months and weeks leading up to the slaying, Green grew increasingly distressed over Wright’s behavior. Days before his murder, he even said he worried Wright might harm their son, Jackson recalled. “I never thought she was going to hurt him,” she said outside of the courtroom today, her eyes brimming with tears. “I know now that he feared for his life,” Jackson said. In court, relatives described Green as a devoted father who was working to rebuild his life after a stint in state prison.
“My son had turned his life around and he was working hard everyday to take care of his son,” Clinton Green, the victim’s father, said. He was also happily engaged to be married and shared a home with his fiancée, Natasha Griffith, she told the court today. Dressed in a green and yellow county jail jumpsuit, Wright sat next to her attorney, sometimes dabbing her face with a tissue as Green’s family members spoke.
Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Leslie Landau had to interrupt a couple of the speakers at the hearing when their attacks on the defendant got too personal. As the family members filed out of the courtroom, Wright fired back, hurling insults at some of Green’s relatives, including a cousin who was escorted out of the courtroom by bailiffs after shouting obscenities at Wright. Wright’s mother and grandparents also attended today’s hearing but declined to address the court.
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