Defense attorneys for two men accused of two counts of murder for a fatal shooting at an Oakland restaurant two years ago blamed each other’s clients today but the prosecutor in the case blamed both men. Reputed gang members Clem Thompkins, 25, and Lamar Fox, 24, are both charged with two counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder for the shooting at Sweet Jimmie’s at 311 Broadway, near Jack London Square, at 12:42 a.m. on April 25, 2011, that left two people dead and five others wounded. Prosecutor Tim Wellman alleged in his closing argument in the case that Thompkins carried out the shooting to promote the Lower Bottoms Gang after it was “disrespected” by a member of the rival Acorn Gang but he said Fox is equally guilty because he actively participated in the shooting by providing the assault rifle that was used.
Fox’s lawyer, Deborah Levy, said Fox only played a minimal role in the shooting and claimed that Fox had no idea Thompkins would carry out the shooting even though the evidence in the case indicates that the two men, along with two colleagues, retrieved the gun from Fox’s home shortly beforehand and police found it at his home afterward. “Mr. Fox thought there might be a fight but he didn’t expect a massacre like this,” said Levy, referring to the shooting that left William Jenkins, 27, of Oakland and 22-year-old Adam Williams of San Leandro dead and five others wounded.
Levy told jurors, “Please don’t convict Mr. Fox because of what Mr. Thompkins did, spraying shots into the restaurant without knowing who was inside.” But Thompkins’ attorney, Darryl Billups, said, “This case is fraught with reasonable doubt” and he believes witnesses who identified Thompkins as the shooter were mistaken because Thompkins and Fox looked alike that night because the two men are about the same size and both had dreadlocks and wore dark clothing. Billups told jurors, “You should come to the conclusion that Mr. Thompkins was not the shooter.” Wellman said the purpose of the shooting was to avenge a confrontation Thompkins, Fox and two colleagues had had with a member of the rival Acorn gang at another restaurant nearby a short time earlier.
Wellman said in the earlier incident the Acorn member flashed a signal to indicate that he was armed with a gun — a gesture that he said Thompkins and Fox interpreted as a sign of disrespect. The prosecutor said Thompkins, Fox and the other reputed gang members drove to Fox’s home to retrieve an assault rifle that Fox had stored there and returned to the Jack London Square area to look for the Acorn member. Thompkins and Fox couldn’t find the rival, so Fox then went into Sweet Jimmie’s to look for him, according to Wellman. Fox didn’t see the Acorn member, but he got into a confrontation with several people at the restaurant’s entrance, he said.
Thompkins, who had been waiting outside in a car, then came into the restaurant and opened fire because he wanted to support Fox in his altercation and possibly because several restaurant patrons had baseball hats with the letter “A” on them that might have indicated they were affiliated with the Acorn gang, Wellman said. One of the patrons was wearing an Oakland A’s hat and another was wearing an Atlanta Braves hat, he said.
Thompkins and Fox then drove away and left behind a scene of “total devastation,” Wellman said. None of the victims in the shooting were gang members, he said. Jurors will begin deliberating Tuesday morning. Thompkins and Fox could face life in prison without the possibility of parole if they’re convicted of all of the charges against them, which include the special circumstance of committing multiple murders.
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